Here is the 10 card spread below:
Cards 1, 2 and 3: What is my ancestral lineage?
PRINCESS OF SWORDS, Daughter of Swords in the South, Isis, Egypt
Unfortunately, these days, I flinch and cringe whenever I hear the word “Isis” (for reasons I probably don’t need to explain). But the Princess of Swords in this deck is the goddess Isis, mother of pharaohs. Rachel Pollack writes that she is “a powerful figure, confident and dynamic… devoted to her family…” and that she “combines sexuality with motherhood and devotion.”
PRINCE OF STONES, Son of Stones in the West, Chief Seattle, America
This card gives the sense of someone who is close to the Earth, aware of how the actions of the current generation affect people for generations to come. There is a sense of responsibility and the importance of making positive changes. The highly stylized orca painted above the chief’s head represents the spiritual relationships formed between Native Americans and animals sacred to them.
The woman on this card is Gaia, the Mother of Life (in German, Erda, the Earth, the Ur-Mother, origin of all things). In Greek myth, Gaia is the first divinity. As she washes her hair on The Star, she demonstrates a unity with Earth, her hair blending into the water. The ragged hem on her dress suggests age. Other symbols on the card refer to the Hebrew letter Tzaddi, fish hook; the Rune Eh, E, horse; and the western zodiac sign Aquarius, The Water Carrier. The Star radiates optimism, hope, and openness, but also a cleansing or renewal, a chance to start over in a situation. It emphasizes the importance of humility, recognizing ourselves as part of something greater.
I love the blend of cultures here – Isis, Chief Seattle, Gaia -- Egyptian, Native American, Greek. My ancestral lineage has deep and powerful roots. I can draw from key elements of masculine, feminine, and universal energy. The connection to Mother Earth is strong in all of these cards.
Cards 4, 5 and 6: What gifts do my ancestors offer?
No small “gift” is this, The Universe! Incorporated into this card are the Hebrew letter Tav, signature; the Rune Gebo, G, gift; the planet Saturn (limitations, restrictions). At the top we see the bottom half of the Earth, shown encircled by a dragon, “the grand serpent of the imagination” (Pollack). Pollack writes that “the serpent’s breath burns away illusion.” The gift here is that of release, a better life ahead, moving beyond previous limitations toward new ideas and opportunities.
ACE OF STONES in the West
On the card an eagle comes down to a huge rock, like God descending from air to earth. In keeping with the association of the suit of Stones with Native America, the eagle is an aspect of Wakan-Tanka, usually translated “Great Spirit.” Pollack writes that the Ace of Stones is “the gift of the Earth” and “the gift of vision.”
EIGHT OF WANDS, Swiftness
The hexagram for this card is 35, “Progress.” The spears move upward, suggesting spiritual development. Pollack notes that the spears cross a diagonal line made by the rock, forming eight X’s or gift Runes. Swiftness, progress, and spiritual development are the gifts this card represents.
What a marvelous collection of gifts this set of cards has unwrapped for me! Release, a better life ahead, moving beyond previous limitations toward new ideas and opportunities; the gift of the Earth and of vision; swiftness, progress, spiritual development. I love that the Rune for The Universe literally means “gift” and the spears form “gift Runes” on the 8 of Wands.
Cards 7, 8 and 9: What lessons do they need me to learn?
PRINCE OF WANDS, Son of Wands in the East, Krishna
The suit of Wands is linked in this deck to India, a region whose culture and spiritual paths have long fascinated me. The Sayings of Sri Ramakrishna, an Indian mystic and yogi during the 19th-century, was my introduction to the fact that Christianity did not have a monopoly on spiritual truths. The Son of Wands in the East is Krishna, an incarnation of Vishnu, playing his flute. Pollack describes the Son of Wands as “someone who loves life, especially its sensual sides. . . has a great interest in the arts, and may be a performer of some kind.”
TEN OF SWORDS, Ruin
On this card we see a broken city, a scene of despair and destruction. But if we look closely at the top of the card, we can see a clear, blue sky. The hexagram on this card is 29, titled “Danger” in one system and “The Abysmal” in another. Negativity, weakness, gloom and doom. Pollack comments that “the Ten of Swords draws on prophecies and apocalyptic visions. But these visions also lead to a restoration of ancient values.” Hence the blue sky in the distance.
SIX OF CUPS, Happiness
Offsetting the despair of the 10 of Swords, the lesson of the 6 of Cups is balance and peace. (Pollack comments that the balance shown by four cups on one side and two on the other is more subtle than that achieved with a rigid three plus three.) The hexagram is number 58, titled “Encouragement” in one system and “The Joyous Lake” in the other. Here there is success, joining with friends, serene moments – yet the card has a dark side as well, reminding us that “happiness needs an awareness of sadness” (Pollack).
These lessons run the gamut from Ruin to Happiness, with Krishna added into the mix. A spiritual, philosophical approach seems to be indicated when dealing with the best and worst life has to offer me.
Card 10: What do they help me to develop and become in this lifetime?
We return to Egypt for this last card for a glimpse at a “primordial creation scene of Egyptian myth” (Pollack). Pollack summarizes this Ace as intelligence, the ability to think clearly, to analyze and separate a problem into its parts. Swords is the suit of Air – intellect, logic -- but this card also features Water – emotion, imagination. In the picture on the card, the sword stirs up the water into waves, creating something real out of potential. Powerful emotions and powerful ideas can combine to create a masterpiece in whatever area of life they are applied.
This last card deserves some contemplation on my part. My astrological birth chart is heavy in Earth and Fire, which suggests to me that the Ace of Swords, with its tip in the water, encourages me to make more and better use of the energy of Air and Water in my life.