Tarot Cards for Dissertation Writing

I’ve been working on my dissertation since September of 2013, I believe, and I will turn it in to my committee on September 1st, 2015. Over the past nearly two years, my relationship with my dissertation has changed a lot, as have the daily habits that I’ve come to cultivate. I only started studying tarot recently, but lately I’ve noticed that many of the cards embody energies, ideas, and perspectives that I’ve discovered in the process of dissertation writing. Only some of the cards below concern the intellectual side of the endeavor. Others correct for grad students’ tendency to focus on the intellect at the expense of everything else. I have found out how to live while writing my dissertation, rather than being a slave to it, and these cards express some of the lessons I’ve learned.Continue reading “Tarot Cards for Dissertation Writing”

4 Noble Truths Problem-Solving Spread

A reading I did with this spread.
A reading I did with this spread.

Lately, I’ve been inhaling Holistic Tarot by Benebell Wen. In her chapter on creating tarot spreads, she says that when creating a new spread, you should really think about the larger ideological framework on which the spread rests. For instance, the Celtic Cross is based on, well, a cross. It has its roots in Christian belief. This makes sense to me for the reason that religious and philosophical underpinnings of a spread will already have done the work of thinking through which questions and answers go well together. I think it’s nice to make up spreads on the fly, too, but using a spread based on a tradition of belief or thought will allow us to tap into wisdom that has already been useful to the lives of many people.

And once I started thinking about it, it occurred to me that the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism would make a great tarot spread. So…here it is! This spread is for specific inquiries, and in particular for problems–great or small–that need to be solved. [Recap: the Four Noble Truths are (1) there is suffering (dukkha–perhaps better translated as dissatisfaction), (2) suffering has a cause, namely clinging, aversion, and ignorance of the way things are, (3) there can be an end to suffering, and (4) the way to get there is the Noble Eightfold Path.] The Buddha applied this formula to a pretty big problem–human suffering–but he was not the first to use this it. As many people have noted, it’s almost certain that the Buddha modeled his teaching on the medical formula: diagnosis (this is your disease), etiology (this is why you have this disease), prognosis (your disease can be cured), treatment (this is how you cure it.) Thus, while I’m pulling the structure of this spread from Buddhism, it is really not necessarily affiliated with any religion–it’s a pretty universal process for problem-solving.

Although the Four Noble Truths seems like a no-brainer for a tarot spread, but I immediately ran into some problems with constructing it because the Fourth Noble Truth is the Eightfold Path. Laying out eight cards, especially if they were to correspond to each element of the Eightfold Path (Right View, Right Intention, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, Right Concentration), would just be information overload, and might not be very flexible. Fortunately, the Eightfold Path has been traditionally divided into three parts: wisdom, conduct, and concentration, which are very adaptable.

If you use a signifier/significator in your readings, put it directly under card 1. Lay the first 4 cards out in a line reading from left to right.Continue reading “4 Noble Truths Problem-Solving Spread”