THE CHURCH of TAROT

A cruciform spread in six cards.

Spreads shaped like various forms of crosses is a fairly common occurrence in cartomancy. The Celtic Cross presumably being the most well known, to the point of almost being the archetypical de facto spread. However, other variants exists, like my personal favourite The French Cross. Like many things, the origins of this particular idea came about whilst trying to develop a similar concept utilising a cruciform as its basis for layout. Such is the fractal nature of creativity that once you open the gates it’s an infinite rabbit hole of discoveries, and literally as I type this yet another conception of a seed for a spread occurred. It’s also something that’s useful to keep in mind as each card unfolds, leading you your thoughts in new directions. This is just an attempt at exploring the possibilities of using a traditional structure in an unconventional manner. Please think of it as a first draft, or a rough sketch, rather than something fully developed and set in stone.

For deeper immersion, face east, with the top card pointing towards the respective direction. Deal cards face down in order as shown in the illustration. Imagine it all as a top view of a church. Turn over one card at a time.

1. NARTHEX

Feet.

Open the doors. This is the threshold. A transition from the outside world in to a spiritual place. Often representing death. What is not allowed inside? What you must leave behind before you enter? 

2. NAVE

Torso/upper body.

Nave derives from the Latin word navis which means “ship”. Symbolically connected to such things as Noah’s ark for instance or your life’s journey. This is the current path you are on. Where are you headed?

3. THE CROSSING

Heart.

Yeah another transitional space. It’s literally the middle of the cross, a holy crossroads, connecting back to the past, leading towards the future and/or possible detours to the left and to the right. The heart of the matter. The core issue.

4. Left SEMITRANSEPT

Left arm.

Negative (outside) Influences. Might be relating to something or someone haunting you from the past. Liminality. Darkness.

5. Right SEMITRANSEPT

Right arm.

Positive (outside) influences. Light.

6. THE ALTAR

Head.

The most sacred part of the whole church. What do you need to sacrifice in order to become reborn? The word altar comes from the Latin words altārium and adolere, meaning “high” and “to ritually burn or sacrifice” respectfully. The latter meaning alluding to what was its original purpose. What do you need to place high upon the altar? Which bridges do you need to burn? What no longer serves its purpose? How do you clear your head? Symbolic of rebirth…

Variants:

Not too keen on the Christian connection? Want a more satanic approach? Try reversing the order, inverting the cross, reading card 6 as number 1 etc.

For a religiously neutral spread, just remove the transepts (wings) altogether, leaving you with four cards instead of six, and just call it The Temple of Tarot (I might expand on this idea later), and perhaps change the names of the various rooms if you are so inclined.

And lastly, if you’re feeling even more adventurous, try adding further locations, like left and right aisles, a sanctuary sanctum, bell tower, crypt, or a pulpit etc.

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