For this reading, the Seeker is looking for guidance and insight related to a friend's spiritual life. Spirit led me to use Tarot of the Pagan Cats by Lola Airaghi & Magdelina Messina (Lo Scarabeo) for this reading.
While shuffling the cards, I meditated on the request, asking that only enlightened insight come through for the Seeker from the Highest Source. I then drew cards to answer the question: What does the Seeker need to understand about this friend's spiritual life?
Note that I asked the cards what the Seeker "needs to understand" about the friend's spiritual life rather than asking the cards to grant me complete access to that person's mind, heart, and spirit. I typically avoid doing readings about people other than the Seeker. Rather than ask the cards to take me where I have not been invited, I prefer to let the cards decide what the Seeker needs to understand.
I am using a 3-card progressive (storytelling) spread wherein the first card sets the theme and the other two cards flesh out the reading.
(1) Theme: FOUR OF SWORDS
(2) QUEEN OF SWORDS
(3) FIVE OF WANDS
As a Theme card, the FOUR OF SWORDS offers a sense of respite or rest from challenging or draining thoughts, circumstances, and situations. In this situation, I am getting the sense that the Seeker's friend is learning or needs to learn how an appropriate amount of retreat and restoration can enhance his spiritual development. Notice I said "appropriate amount" -- not too little or too much. The number FOUR emphasizes stability and balance.
Let's see what the other two cards can add to this story. The QUEEN OF SWORDS offers a blend of emotion (water) and intellect (air). She could represent a person who is willing to help the Seeker's friend in his spiritual life. She might also represent aspects of the friend's own personality. Traditionally, the Queen of Swords at her best is seen as a skilled communicator who is usually able to contain or control her emotions, even though past and present sorrows weigh heavily upon her. It is important that the person represented by the Queen of Swords guard against being overly judgmental, critical, or even deceitful. The Seeker's friend may need to subdue his own inner critic and judge in order to make progress in his spiritual quest.
The image on the FIVE OF WANDS is a huge departure from the other two cards. The cats on the 5 of Wands represent conflict and hysteria, as opposed to the calm, contained feeling we get from the felines on the other two cards. The 5 of Wands is about competition, rivalry, and discord. This suggests to me that the Seeker's friend may be experiencing internal confusion or conflict about his spiritual life -- or perhaps there are people in his life who are giving him a hard time about spiritual matters, challenging him or contradicting him. Here we see the reason why the retreat represented by the 4 of Swords could be helpful. The Seeker's friend needs to withdraw from the fray, so to speak, to center himself and replenish his spiritual energy.
In this set of three cards we are dealing with Swords and Wands -- the positive, active, energetic, "masculine" suits of the Tarot. With the theme card and one other card being Swords, I feel the emphasis is on a reasoned, logical, cool-headed approach. The suit of Wands is about passion, but on the 5 of Wands we see that this can be taken too far, creating an atmosphere of conflict that may interfere with spiritual development.