This is a spread I found on Reddit. I had no information aside from the cards, a log-in name, and a request for help with an interpretation: “It’s a bit complicated but I have trouble understanding why…” Ordinarily I do not do readings because the querent frequently comes armed with the belief that a spread will address a specific issue in his or her life and offer clear and concise guidance leading to a decisive resolution, burdening the reader, the querent, and the cards with an unnatural and impossible expectation to fulfill; I believe readings offer suggestions and open new pathways of thought that will enable the querent to discover possibilities that had not previously been available to him or her, and through introspection these may provide answers. However, in this instance I was intrigued. Since I did not have any background information on the querent, did not know what led her [i] to draw a spread and post it on Reddit, did not even know if the cards occupied predetermined positions (such as Past, Present, Future, etc.); I had nothing to go by except what was before me, and this suits my particular style of reading, which is, at its best, free of preconceptions. I am most interested in how the images before me interact with each other and suggest a framework which, hopefully, will be illuminating. If I had all the biographical information and personal context, I would, at least on some level, consciously or unconsciously, adapt my interpretation to fit the circumstances and thus curtail the vast potential the spread offers.
The kind of reading I do is heavily influenced by Yoav Ben-Dov and the “open reading” technique he developed.[ii] Fundamentally, the open reading is just what its name suggests it is: nothing is predetermined. I begin with three cards but do not assign meanings to the places they occupy aside from direction: the card to the left is “first” and the third card drawn is “third”; if I decide during the course of a reading that I need to add to the spread, I add to the right and consider this a progression. I have never added to the left, although I also remain receptive to the possibility that at some time I may require more information in that direction. I do not have preset meanings for the individual cards. I am far more interested in the interactions between cards creating a narrative that, hopefully, will resonate with the querent.
[The interpretation continues in the next section I]
[i] Although I do not know the gender of the querent, the avatar is feminine.
[ii] Ben-Dov, Yoav. Tarot: The Open Reading. CreateSpace, 2011, 2013.
Tarot: The Open Reading, has since been reissued as The Marseille Tarot Revealed: A Complete Guide to Symbolism, Meaning & Methods. Whether it was updated with new material or merely underwent a title change, I cannot say, as I did not purchase the reissue. I also use the Conver Ben-Dov deck (CBD) as my default deck in all my posts unless otherwise indicated.