Now let’s look at those same cards on the Tree of Life. Here is the spread again, but with some notes:
- a card for where you are now / the energy around you
This will place you in a Sephira or on one of the connecting paths as your starting point for the reading
- a card for your best path, or advice
This gives you an idea about a helpful method to get you to your goal, as well as whether there are things you have to do along the way or if you are already on track to accomplish your goal.
- a card for where you’re heading
This gives you your ultimate direction which of course can be short- or long-term, depending on your question
Here is how I would start to look at the cards.
Order and Direction
The order that you draw the cards is important. It tells you which way the energy of the reading is going. If you draw an 8 and then a 4 and then a 2, you are moving ‘up’ the Tree. If you draw a 3 and then a 6 and then a 10, you are moving ‘down’ the Tree.
Moving down the Tree follows the flash of Divine lightning that begins with inspiration in Kether and ends with a real thing in Malkuth. This is a creation or situation that is being resolved, collected, justified. If you were making a cake, the first gatherings of cake-ness start in Kether and move into all kinds of cake, to one cake, to a recipe, to ingredients, to mixing, etc until you have the cake (Malkuth).
Moving up the Tree follows the Kundalini serpent that starts with our physical selves (in Malkuth) and travels up the Tree in the reverse path of the lightning bolt, ending in Kether. If your cards move you up the Tree, then you are learning and growing, refining, rising. It can still reflect a situation where something is ‘coming to life’ but it is a less physical kind of energy.
How do those definitions feel to you?
Say your three cards are, in order, the 8 of Disks then the 4 of Cups and then the 2 of Cups. Before we even look at the meaning of the cards we can see the energy pattern of the situation.
Think of it like a game board. You put your piece on the 8 of Disks to start with and look to the 2 of Cups as your ultimate goal. To get there directly you would go to Tiphareth (S6) and then via the Emperor to Sephira 2. But in our reading you have to go via the 4 of Cups. That means it’s not a direct line, so there is a little adjustment to make so that when you get to the 2 of Cups, you have the best possible chance to succeed with your goal.
The order also affects the collective energy in the cards/placements of your reading. When energy flows from one Sephira to another on the Tree of Life, it brings some energy from the first one into the second. If you had a reading with 8 cards, then your last card would include influences from the first 7 cards. it’s another option.
If you drew the 7 of Swords then the 9 of Cups and then the 4 of Disks, your ultimate goal is ‘up’ the Tree, so I might be thinking about Kundalini energy rising from earthiness to something more conceptual. Or whatever it means to you, and in the context of your question.
But the 9 of Cups as your ‘how’ is a significant step off the path between the 7 of Swords and the 4 of Disks. It’s the opposite direction. So:
- maybe the 9 of Cups can be seen as something that needs to be done first, where you are, before you can start moving in the direction of the 4 of Disks. I would view this not as moving our game piece to the 9, since it’s ‘backwards’, but ‘looking’ toward the 9 before moving forward. I would still be based in the 7. There aren’t any hard and fast rules about this – just go with what occurs to you and how it feels. That’s just the sense of it that I get.
- think about incorporating the energy of the second card (the ‘how’) within the first before moving on to the third. In the example above, this would mean that we incorporate the energy of the 9 of Cups with us in the 7 of Swords. Let the 9 of Cups temper the 7 of Swords. That changes the mood of the 7 of Swords before it goes anywhere, which might be really important when we then go on to the 4 of Disks.
- Or maybe it would be a good idea to stop where you are in the 7th Sephira and look back to what the 9s represent before going forward. Especially with Swords, the thinkers. Do you see what I mean? Again, it’s all very fluid and depends on the reading, the question, everything, but especially how you deal with it yourself.
Major Arcana and the connecting paths
Just a note here to say that I would have a look at the Major Arcana that reside on the paths that connect the Sephira. And of course, you could get a Major Arcana card in your reading! Which I would read as “This is what you should be doing”, in contrast to readings that focus on the Sephiroth, which tell us “This is where you are heading”. The Major Arcana are a huge help in figuring out how we should be approaching the question at hand. And unless you have a reading where all your cards are in the same Sephira, then you will have that help!
This approach gives me a basis for a reading using the structure of the Tree of Life. It can tell me what the mood is. Then I look at the information on the cards – in the case of the Thoth deck that is the image itself, the astrological notation, any kind of geometric imagery, the Elements, and the Sephiroth and what ‘happens’ in them in the context of their planetary ruler. You can also explore the Geomancy or Gematria of the cards – fields of study in themselves! For a three-card reading, I wouldn’t use all of those things – just the one or ones that bring out a main theme.
For example, if you drew the 3 of Swords and the 4 of Disks and the 5 of Wands, you would have Saturn in all three cards: the 3 of Swords is Saturn in Libra, the 4 of Disks is Jupiter in Capricorn, and the 5 of Wands is Saturn in Leo. So for that reading, I would definitely think that Saturnian energy is important. I might well just go with that, since it’s such a strong influence in the reading.
Say you draw the Queen of Cups, the 3 of Wands and the 3 of Disks. That’s three 3s on the Tree of Life because the Queens reside in the third Sephira with all the 3 Minor Arcana. It’s a lot of 3 energy in numerology terms, but also, everything is in Binah. So I would look at what happens in that Sephira and how it might apply to the question at hand.
I hope all that makes sense. It is an ad-hoc system that I’ve acquired as I go along and I would really appreciate any feedback you might like to give me, if you try out a reading along these lines!