I’ve been listening to an old Eagles’ song, “Hole in the World,” that contains the following chorus, and pondering how tarot might be used to address our own needs in this regard:
“There’s a hole in the world tonight
There’s a cloud of fear and sorrow
There’s a hole in the world tonight
Don’t let there be a hole in the world tomorrow”
I came up with an intriguing exercise that might prove useful in approaching this subject.
First, decide what the particular “hole” is in your own existence, big or small, momentary or persistent. Select a tarot card to represent this condition and place it to the left.
Next, select a card to represent the best possible resolution of the situation (at least in your own opinion; the Universe may not agree) and place it to the right.
Finally, shuffle the rest of the deck and pull one card that is suggestive of your current stance in the matter and where you sit on the continuum between problem and solution (that is, which of the two extremes it favors); place it in the middle of the row. This card may offer some hints as to how you might best proceed in the optimistic direction. If its testimony is inconclusive or heavily biased toward the pessimistic side, pull another card (or two) to place between the middle card and the “best-case” scenario to show a progressive or “step-wise” course of action linking the two. Then decide how to proceed.
For example, suppose you are in the midst of a multi-party conflict that appears to have no clear-cut outcome for those concerned (I once had a case where several office workers were vying acrimoniously for a supervisor position, and my client — one of the candidates — wanted to know how it would turn out). A good card to represent the heart of the matter would be the 5 of Wands symbolizing “Strife” (which in fact came up as the “covering” card in that Celtic Cross reading).
A reasonable choice for the resolution would be a card that represents a candidate whom all can agree is the most qualified for the job in terms of temperament (especially integrity, sincerity and fairness) and overall professionalism, someone who might even be from outside the department: Temperance comes to mind. (On another occasion I had an employee whom I had passed over for such a position tell me that if I hadn’t selected the unimpeachable person I did for the job, he would have quit.)
The randomly-drawn “transition” card might be Justice, indicating that the decision lies in the hands of upper management, and that nothing the parties to the situation can do to boost their own chances will make a difference; or it might be the Knight of Wands, implying that an energetic (and perhaps arrogant) “hotshot” in the group has the inside track and the others should seek ways to nullify this advantage through their own diligence; or perhaps the 5 of Swords, showing that things will become worse before they get better. In the last scenario, an additional card or two could be illuminating.
I’ve written about transitional cards in the past, mainly in connection with the numerological progression of the minor arcana, with the idea that a card fulfills the promise of the previous one and sets the stage for emergence of the next one. In the present discussion there is no such assumption of logical development since any card (or cards) can appear as “mediator between the two extremes, but the principle is similar in theory. Here is the earlier analysis:
I use two different numerical models in my work with the minor (or “pip”) cards of the tarot: the Pythagorean sequence that exhibits an increasingly complex geometric progression, and the Qabalistic numeration based on the descent of the sephiroth on the Tree of Life. Both explain the emergence of formless “archetypal energy” from a primal state of rest and, through ten elaborations or emanations, its evolution toward a similarly passive condition when fully materialized in its final concrete form (in which the “ideal becomes real”). However, the development of each number series follows a different pattern: Pythagoras considered Ten to be the “perfect number” to which the potential inherent in the One aspires through amplification or multiplication, while the Qabalists thought of the primordial Monad as spiritually transcendent, in which case the Ten represents both a ramification and a degradation of that purity through its gradual immersion (and “bottoming-out”) in matter. The Greek philosophers considered Three, Six and Nine to be the “three perfections” while the Qabalistic perspective (although seeing the higher-numbered iterations as symbolically tainted by contact with matter) is not much different, so the numbers preceding each of them might be viewed as preparatory to a fulfillment of sorts.
In both systems there are what I think of as crucial “transitional” numbers that mediate between cards of a similar nature like links in a chain. These numbers (and their associated cards) are the Two and Three (prefiguring Four), the Five (anticipating Six) and, in a slightly different manner, the Seven and Eight (presaging Nine). They are all developmental in emphasis: the unswerving Two brings movement and direction to the static potential of the One and triggers the more expansive and liberating mobility of the Three that eventually runs out of steam in the stable but static Four; the disruptive Five, in the words of Joseph Maxwell, “breaks the equilibrium of the Four” by spurring often chaotic change that clears the way for a return to harmonious balance in the Six (on a “lower arc,” so to speak); the Seven and Eight suggest parabolic rather than linear motion, in that the restive Seven departs the composure of the Six by offering — not without some risk — a step in a new direction while the compensatory and corrective Eight reins in and reverses this divergent shift, paving the way for a return to stability in the Nine.
I’ve covered these assumptions at greater length in previous posts, but in a recent reading I characterized the Two of Coins as “transitional” and thought the insight worthy of generalizing. In principle, every card can be considered transitional between the preceding card and the following one, but in these instances the “destination” card represents a special state of completion that acts as a kind of “way-station” on the journey, progressing from the previous “rest-stop” by way of the connecting card. If the linking card turns up reversed it might be construed as a regressive reaction that longs to return to the earlier stability rather than welcoming the advent of a new and potentially more rewarding equilibrium.