Last week I performed a reading that went straight in with the client. She was not only happy with the reading, but also confirmed both the situation and the necessity to follow to the letter the advice that the cards have indicated.

I reproduce the reading here as I think that others might find it useful to see how I ended up assigning agency to the different ‘people’ populating the spread, where I went with both, assigning agency to the person cards external to the client’s own personality and also pertaining to her internal ‘aspect’.

QUESTION: What will happen with my love life in the future?

Here the only other information pertaining to the context of the question was the recent situation of the client having left the man she lived with and his desire for her to come back to him.

Given the context of the question – she left the man, he wants her back, but she made a decision against it – I had determined a time-frame for her cards of 3 months, for a layout that gave her insight into the current situation (3 cards) and how it develops, along steps regarding actions for what to do and what not to do indicated by a card on top (DO) and a card at bottom (DON’T).



The cards fell as follow: 3 cards for the situation: The Star, The Devil, The Fool; card on top (what to do): The Emperor; card at bottom (what not to do): The Tower.

Here I said the following – I quote from my text sent to her:

Whatever inspiring force there was in your previous relationship has turned into an abusive and nasty force enslaving both of you. The chalices of generosity turned into sour imps who can’t even see what’s wrong. The consequence of this is that you rise again, free yourself, and simply walk out of it. The boyfriend may still be nagging at your pants, but sure enough, you won’t turn back. Given this trajectory and the time-frame we’ve imposed here, it doesn’t look like you’ll stumble over a new love in the next 3 months. You’ll keep walking, free of ties.

If we consider the card on top, The Emperor, we can see where the advice from the cards comes from. Because this walking out of a relationship does not have a clear direction, the cards indicate the following: go to your father’s, and seek refuge there. If the Emperor is not your father, than the cards say, go to a powerful man who will help you with your own self-control. This reading is actually also enforced by the card of the Pope that underlies your situation. If you add the numerical value of the three horizontal cards, The Star 17, The Devil 15, The Fool 0, we get 32. 3+2 is 5, so The Pope. Thus, if you stumble over anything in the next 3 months, then it will be your new-found freedom, conscious help from a powerful man, and spiritual comfort coming from a counselor. So, no new love in the near future.

What the cards indicate NOT TO DO under any circumstance is go back to the busted house. We’ve got here the card of the blown up Tower, which as you can see, is not a place you want to be in.

So, pretty clear advice. Stay clear of the oppressive relation, keep walking, and don’t be afraid to ask for help from influential people. A counselor-type may come your way and who will make you realize your spiritual potential – forgive yourself and the other maybe? – and help you with how to cope with what you may regret in your life right now.

Now, the only place where this reading was slightly challenging was in considering whether to see the Fool as the client’s abandoned man, given that we have a neat symmetrical relation represented in the Devil card. As the question was one of relationship, it would have been easy to just identify the tied down antlered entity to the left with the woman (The Star) and the one to the right with her man (The Fool). BUT – not so fast, I told myself. Considering carefully the question, I could not have taken the man in question to still be haunting the spread – which he might have, as we readers of cards often happen to notice. But as the Fool here appears in the ‘future’ position, he can only be thought of as representing the woman herself, not some idiot who made a mistake leaving behind a great and inspiring star of a woman (especially not when it was her decision to leave).

Same thing with the Emperor: While one might be tempted to say, ‘get a grip of yourself woman,’ it is not sure that the powerful man, the Emperor here, is merely a sign that the woman must take control over her life. Had I said that, my reading would have clashed with the situation at hand indicating that the Fool is walking. And since when is the Fool ever aware of the need to get a grip of herself? – Ha, good luck to the ones thinking that control is something that would ever even remotely interest the Fool. If, indeed, such a need for more control should arise, then the only way the Fool can get it is by asking for help. So there.

It goes to show that one must be very careful with considering not only the question but also its context, and then assign agency to the person cards accordingly (trumps and court cards alike).

What I’m trying to say here is that without processing the information the reader is given, or without analyzing the situation, the mere intuition about who is who might not be very helpful to the person. In fact, one can easily deliver the exact opposite message than one I’ve opted for here. Had I said: ‘My god, make sure you submit to the boyfriend (The Emperor) and don’t break up your house (The Tower); just get rid of the negative feelings you might have (The Devil), and carry on lightly (The Fool)’, I’m not so sure that I would have rendered this client any good service at all.

Good luck with your discernment.


Note on the deck:

Marseille Tarot, Jean Dodal, 1701, as reconstructed by Jean-Claude Flornoy, 2001. A hand-stenciled set.

4 thoughts on “THE FATHER’S HOUSE

  1. Markus Pfeil says:

    Very nice point you make Camelia. It is the question and its surroundings and also the method you decided to use with your spread that will determine what ought to be assigned to the cards. Its easy sometimes to decide on “spread positions” and then give up on them when things are not readings smoothly. Here also to me the Devil would be the centre of the spread indicating that the issue is “bad” attachment. The Fool liberates himself, sticking to the Devil leads to its successor, the ruined house. Best, Markus

    1. cameliaelias says:

      Thanks Markus. As you know, I’m not fond of spreads, so this one here is an exception, especially the vertical line of the ‘do’ and ‘don’t’ connection. I find spreads too reductive for my liking, without allowing for much to emerge outside of the house positions we impose. It’s easy to determine agency when you have things like: ‘this card opposes you’, ‘this card helps you’ and so on. Although illuminating in this sense and good enough, spread positions are best read if people also remember to consider what’s emergent as a whole – and from what I’ve seen around, this is exactly what most readers ditch, in the name of saying that if you have to think too much and make an effort to understand the cards as they form a synthesis, then you will not have allowed for your own intuition to speak. I get that, but I have to say that I believe in the idea the only a rigorously disciplined reader can read cards in a flow. In other words, I strongly believe that the highest art in card reading is based on method (constraint) and discernment (freedom) taken together, not one without the other.

      About the Devil here. Sure, he is the center of the axis. He must be taken into consideration whichever way you go, from left to right, or top to bottom. For a young woman to hear that she must go back to her father’s house, may already sound as another bondage, so the implicit realization that one must make here is that one must choose between two evils. At the end of the day, however, the Fool is still the best bet, for the Fool does not follow rules but ideals. So the woman is called to consider this before she enters another amorous relation, which, at bottom, her question reveals a desire for. Basically the Devil in this position vis-à-vis the Fool is saying this: ‘you’re not ready for the next love’. So, paradoxically enough, one must in the end heed the Devil’s hidden sounding and just walk into the father’s house – and then wait. This type of reasoning, however, must come from the client herself, as she is the one who has to ‘feel’, as it were, her own experience.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.