In a recent exchange with Mary K. Greer on one of her posts, Tarot Flow, on her blog, I made a few comments on how, by reading 3 consecutive cards in a literal way, we may enhance what Mary calls a better Tarot flow, namely the ability to interpret cards if we remind ourselves to consider what comes before and what comes after a specific card. Those familiar with the Marseille tradition would know already that such a method is crucial especially for the reading of pip cards that are devoid of narratorial graphic symbolism. The fragment below reproduces my contribution to Mary’s call for interpreting this sequence: 7, 8, 9 cups from the Rider-Waite-Smith deck.


Quite literally in the 8 cups, what is happening is that the figure has decided to get the 7 cups in the sky down on earth and align them along an 8th one. Judging by the neat structural way in which he arranged the cups, one can almost imagine him saying to himself, yet addressing the cups, the following: ‘you stay here now, nice an quiet, and wait. Meanwhile, I’ll be off to the mountain to contemplate what’s missing, or what would make this perfect.’ So the choice in the 8 becomes not a choice about the content of the previous 7, and which has caused distress, however enchantingly, but about choice itself. In other words, the action in the 8 becomes a more nuanced manifestation of the idea of choice in the 7. Here, choice itself is contemplated beyond its function to be made or received in a dream. In the 9, then, the figure returns with yet another cup, and which, especially because it is also neatly aligned, indicates that the ‘thinking about it’, while still not quite over, gives some satisfaction – at least on the surface. Consequently, this puts us on a track unto sensing already even that which we cannot see here, namely the 10 cups, and which I would bet, even those not familiar with the deck, would be able to describe as depicting a freer and less regimented logic, in a way returning the narrative to square 1, to the ace, to the undivided flowing mess.

June 16, 2011 at 1:25 pm

MARY K GREER – from her blog entry on Tarot Flow

Camelia –

It’s great the way you stick so literally to the images: gathering the cups from the 7, adding one more, yet still needing to go search for another that is still missing.

For you, what would be the point of revisiting the 7 before being able to handle the 8 (if the 8 were reversed)?

June 16, 2011 at 2:04 pm


In this line-up, the 8 reversed would emphasize more strongly the idea of potential in the 7 cups, but not in the direction of potential converging to a limit where realization is in sight, but inversely, where potential multiplies itself, as it were, thus becoming even further removed from actualization or resolution. In the 8 reversed, the man goes through the same motion of aligning structurally the cups, but instead of leaving them, he inserts himself between them. It’s an interesting situation, as we might actually entertain the illusion of having become part of the work instead of assuming agency over its creation. So the task is simply to remember that as much as we might like it, in the 8 reversed, as we are not cups ourselves, thinking that we belong to that same category merely prolongs the confusion felt in the 7.


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