THE WILLIAM BLAKE TAROT
of the CREATIVE IMAGINATION

 

Table of Contents:

***ED BURYN HOME***

Cover Page
Frontispiece [Suits Key-Phrases]
1 — TAROT AND BLAKE
2 — BLAKE'S SYSTEM
3 — THE BLAKE TRIUMPHS
4 — THE SUIT OF PAINTING
5 — THE SUIT OF SCIENCE
6 — THE SUIT OF MUSIC
7 — THE SUIT OF POETRY
8 — READING THE CARDS
9 — SPREADS
APPENDIXES

Chapter 9

Spreads

That greatest of all blessings: a strong imagination, a clear idea,
and a determinate vision of things in his own mind.

The Blake Deck can be used with any Tarot spread. This chapter briefly describes two simple but useful spreads, and then introduces three new spreads based on Blakean ideas. In these spreads, the deck should be shuffled by the person(s) receiving the reading.

The One-Card Spread
The Three-Card Spread
Blakean Spreads
The Fourfold Vision Spread
The Creative Process Spread
The Reunification Spread
Inventing Your Own Spreads

THE ONE-CARD SPREAD

Drawing a single card is the simplest of spreads, yet is highly useful for focusing, meditation, and learning. Drawing a daily card, for example, provides a meditative or symbolic theme to which thoughts and events of the day can be related. It is also an excellent way to systematically go through the deck and become familiar with its symbology. Depending on your intention, you can either begin with the first card and methodically proceed to the last, or the cards may be shuffled and one card drawn at random each day. If practicable, write your thoughts and observations in a personal Tarot journal.

THE THREE-CARD SPREAD

Drawing three cards is another elementary but powerful spread, particularly because its three positions can be flexibly interpreted in quite different ways. This spread, and many other traditional spreads, are described in detail in Tarot for Your Self, by Mary K. Greer — see Appendix. The meanings of the three positions can be interpreted as follows, depending on your question or intention:

The Three-Card Spread

[image]

This spread, and many other traditional spreads, are described in detail in Tarot for Your Self by Mary K. Greer (see Appendix).

BLAKEAN SPREADS

This section presents two Tarot spreads that are specifically based on Blakean ideas: the Fourfold Vision Spread, and the Creative Process Spread.

THE FOURFOLD VISION SPREAD

Blake’s concept of "fourfold vision" was poetically expressed by him as follows:

Now I a fourfold vision see
And a fourfold vision is given to me.
'Tis fourfold in my supreme delight
And threefold in soft Beulah's night;
And twofold always. May God us keep
From single vision and Newton's sleep.

The Fourfold Vision Spread

Blake postulated that vision was of several kinds, depending on the spirituality of the 'eye' doing the looking. Chart 9-2 presents Blake's concept of vision as a layout of cards. The Fourfold Vision Spread is a general-purpose layout that can give you a deeper view of just about anything; it's like turning a spotlight on something that you want illuminated.

Position O (Object). The first card at the right, labeled O (for the Object being viewed), can be anything at all: an idea, a thing, a relationship, yourself. Card O may be selected face-up, if desired, by looking through the deck and choosing a card that outwardly symbolizes what you want to 'view' in this reading. Alternatively, you may choose this card at random from a fanned deck, in which case Card O should be interpreted as an inner definition of the object. Place it face up at the right.

Position 1. Now choose a card at random from the fanned deck, and place it face up, as shown. Card 1 represents single vision, which is the mechanical act of seeing things in a factual way. It presents a one-dimensional view of the object. It tells you how you see the object of the reading at its basic or material level, or what Blake calls "seeing with the eye" as a mechanical instrument. He gives the example of walking down a country lane beneath "a mild sun," which his outward or single vision tells him is indeed the physical sun that mounts over the trees and fields.

Position 2. Now choose Card 2 as before, placing it face up in the position shown, to the left and slightly above the previous card. Card 2 represents twofold vision, which sees the object from a humanized perspective – or what Blake calls "seeing through the eye" — as through a window onto the higher faculties. In Blake's example of the sun:

Then Los appeard in all his power
In the sun he appeard descending before
My face in fierce flames in my double sight
Twas outward a sun: inward Los in his might.

Note that twofold vision sees the object personified; that is, with human characteristics. At the same time, it sees the object through single vision too.

Position 3. Choose and place Card 3 as shown, just left and slightly above the previous card. This represents threefold vision, in which emotional values are creatively stimulated by the personified vision of Card 2. Threefold vision is associated with Blake's realm of Beulah, with its subconscious and dreamy forces that inspire lunar sight and sometimes lunacy. Blake goes on:

Los flamd in my path & the sun was hot
With the bows of my mind & the arrows of thought
My bowstring fierce with ardour breathes
My arrows glow in their golden sheaves.

The vision of Card 3 sees the object with an even higher level of creativity that fuses emotion with thought. In Blake's case, he now views the sun/Los with the emotion of fierce ardor.

Position 4. Now choose Card 4 in the same manner as the others, and place it in the final position of the spread, again left and slightly above the previous card. Card 4 represents fourfold vision, which is the culminating spiritual perspective of the object and of the reading. The vision of Card 4 sees the object as a mystical psychospiritual event, while still viewing it with the other types of vision operative in Cards 3, 2, and 1. Card 4 goes beyond the previous physical, mental, and emotional viewpoints into a transcendent overview that is "fourfold in my supreme delight." Card 4 can also be interpreted to represent some previously unseen potential of the object, which may actualize into experience if these levels of vision can be maintained.

Sample Reading

The following is a brief description of an actual reading using the Fourfold Vision Spread. The object in question (Card O) was my relationship with my ex-wife, Mary, a topic suggested by her following an argument between us. Rather than deliberately select a significator for Card O, she chose it at random from the fanned deck. The card drawn was 6 of Science—Passage, which easily identifies her feeling of alienation, and quite well described our relationship at the moment. I was working on writing this book — plodding along with my globe of imagination — oblivious to Mary, who is far above me pushing at clouds of anger and confinement. Between us, chain lightning flashes; our relationship is in passage.

The next card drawn by Mary, representing single vision of the facts as we see them, was the Child of Poetry. Literally interpreted, this card says that our relationship is the child of our creativity. Viewed simplistically, it is an idealistic expression (child) of truth (Poetry). This is borne out by our collaborative works together, which present a one-dimensional view of our collaboration as purely artistic. That is, we are learning together to teach ourselves and others to see.

The next card drawn, Card 2, a personifying of the previous card, was the Man of Painting. Our inner vision here shows that the view of our relationship in Card 1 is confirmed even upon a deeper look. This is an image depicting mastery (man) of material form (Painting), which is how we see ourselves. Our relationship produces creative works in an atmosphere of light. We create in beauty but we must deal with turbulent matters, here representing roiled emotions as well as material difficulties.

The next card drawn, Card 3, represents our creative vision of ourselves. The card drawn was I—Magic, a nice segue to the previous card. One viewpoint has Mary channeling celestial energies while I (as Jupiter/Urizen) mediate and ground her energies; another viewpoint has me praying for guidance while Mary (as Urizen/Jupiter) hurls thunderbolts in anger. Evidence of creative energy abounds in this card, and the message is that we can basically handle it, although it is a constant struggle and balancing act as well.

The final card drawn by Mary, Card 4, represents mystical or godly vision. The card was 3 of Poetry—Creativity. The kneeling figure at the book of prophecy is either or both of us together, blessed by the muses as we create our system of Tarot and collaborative works. This was a nice ending that helped us bury the hatchet.

THE CREATIVE PROCESS SPREAD

This is based on Blake's idea of the four parts of man, which correspond to the four parts of any creative process: imagining, feeling, thinking, and manifesting. It is like taking a snapshot of a project or idea that you are working on, giving you a picture of the inner dynamics of your ["your" what?].

The Creative Process Spread

The spread begins with a significator card (P) chosen or drawn to represent the Project. The next card (C) drawn represents you as the Creator of the project, and is placed over the first card, face up. Then four more cards are drawn in sequence to represent four aspects of the process from ideation to manifestation. In Chart 9-3, each of the cards are depicted with their symbolic Window Keywords (from Chart 2-2). These keywords are used in defining the meanings of the cards:

Position P (Project). This is the first card laid down. Select it by looking through the deck, or at random from the fanned deck. Place it face up at the center. This represents the project as a point of origin from which the process will spiral out. Interpret this card as the essence of what the reading is about.

Position C (Creator). Choose at random from the fanned deck, and place it face up, overlapping the first card. This represents the Creator of the project, who may be yourself or another person or entity. This card is the spiritual impetus or force behind the project. The first two cards are a snapshot of the creative synthesis.

Position 1 (Imagining). Choose at random from the fanned deck, and place it, face up, above the first two cards (north), which represents the imagination. This card tells you something about the ideation of the project — it springs from the loins, so to speak; and represents the spiritual truth overseeing the project. The process of imagining the project — that is, making an idea or 'image' of it — requires listening to the Creator and thereby defining the breadth or scope of the project as well. (The curved line connecting Cards C and 1 indicates the listening process.) Associated with Humanity, the highest aspect or valuation of the project, Card 1 is the prophetic statement of the work. Position 2 (Feeling). Choose this card in the same way, and place it face up, to the left of the center cards (east), which represents the emotions. This card tells you about the feelings stimulated by or surrounding the ideation of the project. Associated with the Emanation, this is the feminine or subconscious aspect of the process. Being associated with the sense of smell, imagine this card receiving the earthy scent of the idea from Card 1, then bringing it to the center. Here, from the heart, it generates a "vibration" — indicative of the feeling-tone and the levels of energy involved. As the pulse of the project, Card 2 is the musical or energetic statement of the work.

Position 3 (Thinking). Choose this card as before, and place it face up, below the center cards (south), representing thought and structure. This card is about problem-solving, and what you need to know in this process. Being associated with the sense of sight, imagine this card seeing the fiery energy of Card 2, then bringing it into the mind. Here it looks intently at this energy (that is, what it represents) from top to bottom, and thinks about how it relates to the structure as a whole. Associated with the Spectre, or masculine aspect, this card suggests the linear dimensions of the project: its height and depth. Card 3 is the structural statement of the work, blowing as an intellectual wind.

Position 4 (Manifesting). Choose this final card as before, then place it face up, to the right of the center cards (west), which represents the manifesting of the project, and its culmination. This card tells you how to actually do the work, and/or the form it will take when completed. It is the outward or natural effect of the inward or spiritual cause that initially motivated it in Card 1. Being associated with the senses of speech and touch, this position touches the airy structure of the previous card and gives it voice to make it palpable. Associated with the Shadow, this card may also indicate something unreal in the outcome, a projection of desire rather than an expression of the spiritual motive. Card 4 tells you about the final result of the creative process, or the form it will take; it is the "portrait" of the work, and speaks its message.

Note that the cards in the spread, while taking the appearance of a four-square diamond, develop that shape as a spiral evolution from the original card, with each card passing-on the energy of the previous card, communicating with it and then transforming it into another dimension of the process. At the same time, the creator at the center (Card C) is equally in touch with every stage of the process.

Sample Reading

The following is a brief description of an actual reading using the Creative Process Spread. The creative project in question was a film script written by Rick, an actor friend of mine who lives in Hollywood; the reading was done in the Los Angeles Farmers Market over morning coffee immediately preceding his meeting with the prospective financial backers of the film.

Rick chose the Child of Poetry as the significator (Card P) of the reading, in part because the character on the card reminded him of the main character in his film script, as well as himself in the effort of trying to sell his script. The child persona goes along with Rick's novice status as a movie mogul, if he sold the script. The Creator (Card C), turned up as 2 of Painting—Contraries. When this card appeared, the true import of the project was expressed by Rick's wife, Char, who was also present at the reading. The real issue was whether this project, especially if successful, would act as a divisive influence on their marriage — which was a happy one because Rick's parttime acting jobs had heretofore allowed him to spend a lot of time with his family. This card graphically expressed their dilemma: Rick in the clouds of his mental vision of film success looks down on Char, happily grounded at home singing songs of marital bliss.

Card 1 (imagination) was then drawn as XIII—Transformation. Rick's imaginal truth is represented here. He sees this project cutting away his old career: and looks to the red angel, the new life force raising it wings. This also show's Rick's commitment to changing things; he is clearly ready to switch his career horses.

Card 2 (heart of the matter) was XVII—Stars. Rick has the scent of stardom in his nostrils, and his eyes are looking up and away from the mundane, just as in Card C. In this case, he is lovingly aware of the marital and familial energies at his feet, but his eyes (and his heart) are clearly on stardom.

Card 3 (thought and structure) was Child of Science. Here we see Rick, both as the innocent and the Spectre, drawing his plans in the sand, explaining them to Char — who is figuratively behind him; that is, supporting his goal but also hanging back. Note that the action takes place next to the dominating pyramid of materialism.

Card 4 (manifestation), the final or culminating card, was Angel of Science, which is interesting but ambiguous: First, it literally suggests the meeting with the backers, the financial 'angels'. The temple is radiant, which is favorable. However, there are also dark clouds in view. In this position of the material outcome of the project, this could represent a dream afloat in the sky, and we must question the foundation of this matter. Maybe this project is pure abstraction.

Finally, there is the underlying psychological foundation of the reading as expressed in the Contraries card, which is the Shadow aspect of this final card — the influence of this project on Rick's marriage. Cards 1 and 2 show Rick’s obvious commitment to becoming a successful, but Cards C and 2 show that he is also aware of the needs of his marriage, while Card 3 shows the way he gains support and understanding from his wife, and they have a joint plan. In this overall context, Card 4 looks unambiguously good. The bright temple of marriage and family is his muse (angel) and the home of his creative intellect (Science). It surmounts all clouds.

THE REUNIFICATION SPREAD

Part A: The Divided Man

The first four positions represent the divided parts, and are laid out in the usual cruciform arrangement that depicts the fallen man.

Note that the head is down (Spectre = south)
and the loins are at the top (Humanity = north).

The Reunification Spread

Position 1 (Specter). Select this first card in the spread from the fanned deck and place it face up. Card 1 describes or relates to the Spectre, which is the male portion and the reasoning power in man. Divided from and craving its feminine portion (the Emanation), its tendency is to bebrutish and selfish. The Spectre needs to change or sacrifice something to promote reunification. Card 1 tells you something about your own Spectre and/or how to change, balance, join, or cast it out.

Position 2 (Emanation). Select this card from the fanned deck and place it face up, above and to the right of Card 1, as shown in Chart 12-6. Card 2 describes or relates to the Emanation, which is the female portion and represents spiritual perception. When separated from theSpectre, its tendency is towards pride and willfulness, wishing to dominate the male through sexual manipulation. The Emanation also needs to change or scrifice something to promote reunification. Card 2 tells you something about your own Emanation and/or what can be done to mitigate or eliminate its negative influence, and promote reunification with the Spectre.

Position 3 (Shadow). Select this card in a similar manner, and place it face up, above and to the left of Card 1, as shown. Card 3 describes or relates to the Shadow, the material portion or physical body‹which is ultimately a delusion of the senses, and also the repository of suppressed desires. When the body is alienated from its animating forces (the Spectre and Emanation), it becomes passive and deenergized, subject to cruelty and delusions. To promote reunification, the Shadow needs somehow to recognize its state. Card 3 tells you something about how to recharge the body and regain awareness of its spiritual basis, of which its physical basis is only the shadow or reflection. Cards 2 and 3, shown opposite in the spread, are in fact contraries of each other, because the Emanation represents spiritual awareness while the Shadow represents materialistic awareness.

Position 4 (Humanity). Select this card in the same manner as the others, and place it face up, above the other cards as the fourth corner of the diamond shape. Card 4 describes or relates to Humanity, which is the innermost portion of man. Humanity is Blake's term for Fourfold man's divine spirit, which is wrapped in deadly sleep when his other portions are separated from each other. Card 4 tells you something about your own Humanity and/or suggests what can be done to awaken this faculty within yourself. Cards 1 and 4, shown opposite in the spread, are in fact contraries of each other because the Humanity represents imagination while the Spectre represents reasoning.

Position 5 (Forgiveness). Select this card in the same manner as the others, and place it face up, in the center of the other cards. Card 5 tells something about what's going on in the entire reading, possibly a summary or overall depiction, or tells what needs to be forgiven, or suggests how forgiveness might take place. Forgiveness is another name for Blake's Jesus, the Divine Humanity, which is the one quality that can mediate among the divided parts and bridge their contraries. This is literally shown by its position at the heart of the spread, connecting all the cards simultaneously.

Part B: The Unified Man

Now the cards drawn in Part A are picked up and rearranged into a single vertical line of overlapping cards, with Card 5 placed first, at the top, and then Cards 1, 2, 3, and 4 in order so that Card 4 is at the bottom, in full view. See Chart 12-6. This lineup of cards represents the unified man, who is now upright.

Position 5. As the highest position, the card placed here represents the superconscious aspect of the figure. Because Blake's Jesus is not only Forgiveness but Imagination, this card is appropriately placed above the others. It serves as the instigator of creativity, which begins as a divine idea that descends to man.

Positions 1 through 4. Card 1, which was the divided Spectre, is now the head of the unified man. Card 2, which was the divided Emanation, is now the heart. Card 3, which was the divided Shadow, is now the body (frame). Card 4, which was the sleeping Humanity, is now awake and transformed into the loins (genitals) of creativity. The overlapping of the cards indicates their organic unity, and therefore these four cards as drawn should be interpreted as a unity, in addition to their separate interpretations. Card 4, the last or lowest card, also represents the outcome or focus of the creative energy that is released by this spread, and for this reason it is fully visible. In this light, Card 4 tells you something about the nature or expression of the creative energy embodied in this process of reunifying the psyche.

Sample Reading

The following is a brief description of an actual reading using the Reunification Spread. The creative issue was the writing of this book, at a time when I felt scattered and unsure about how to proceed.

In position 1, the divided Spectre, I drew the triumph I—Magic. My Spectre in this creative situation could be an over-rational approach to the writing (in response to dealing with the intricacies of Blake), so this card suggests a more magical perspective. The card shows a spectrous Urizenic figure trying to control the things below him (the intellect), while the magus literally stands up to him, instead calling on mystical energies from above. He also represents Los, the time-lord, which suggests that to meet my book deadline I need to control time, magically if necessary.

In position 2, the divided Emanation, I drew the 7 of Music. The Emanation here could be a tendency to dominate the process instead of letting it flow, so this card suggests lightening up (the rainbow) and becoming more fanciful and playful. The Emanation is associated with the suit of Music (see Chart 6-1) so this card (of Music) is exalted in this position, stressing the need for more heart.

In position 3, the divided Shadow, I drew the Angel of Science. The Shadow here could be telling me that my perception of the book as a physical thing is a frustrating delusion. The card reminds me that my muse (angel) in writing the book is an inspired mental process, not a matter of filling pages. This card is often ironic, and here it says mental light may dispel the shadow. Both this card and the previous card are about lightness, but they have contrary aspects as the former is about emotional light while this one is about mental clarity.

In position 4, the divided Humanity, I drew the 5 of Painting (Hardship). My sleeping Humanity here could refer to various physical problems that are blocking my creativity and my ability to work, things that I view as hardships‹such as many competing demands on my time, an illness, an injury, endless distractions, and so forth. In this sense, the card is a depiction of my situation, with the pointing figures representing the things figuratively keeping me on my knees. In another sense, the card depicts my need to see that these things are necessary to awaken my Humanity or inspired portion. These distractions, pressures, and pains are catalytic forces that can summon a higher level of creativity and productivity, without which this may not get done, or may not get done right. The figure of the woman also suggests that my wife is supportive, and can help me in various material and physical ways. Both this card and Card 1 are about the need to stand up to restrictive forces, but they have contrary aspects: this card is about resisting physical limitation while Card 1 is about resisting rational limitation.

In position 5, Forgiveness, I drew the Woman of Poetry, which represents mastery of inner truth. The woman in the card stands between the contraries to harmonize them, and suggests that seeing the truth about the nature of the divided portions is the way to reconcile them.

In part B of the spread, Card 5 is laid down first, and signifies that inner truth is the halo of imagination around the head of my now unified vision of working on the book. Card 1 shows magic at work in the mind, Card 2 shows fancy at work in the heart, Card 3 shows the body filled with light, and Card 4 shows the reproductive organs (creativity) disciplined by outside forces. All the cards together as a unity suggest a transforming process that takes diffuse ethereal energy in at the top (the input) and converts it into refined matter at the bottom (the output). Card 4 viewed by itself as the focus of the creative unification shows the necessity to overcome the physical hardships involved. The card itself suggest various visual clues for doing this: facing the difficulties forthrightly and without subterfuge, getting stripped down for creative production, and getting help that is near at hand.

INVENTING YOUR OWN SPREADS

Far more than most decks, the Tarot of the Creative Imagination emphasizes personal invention in its use. One of the keys to getting the most out of this deck is to invent your own Tarot spreads as the need arises. In her book Tarot for Your Self, author Mary K. Greer provides a chapter called Design and Creativity with the Tarot that includes a section about designing your own spreads, which I highly recommend.

Basically, the act of designing a spread is an exercise in creative problem-solving, which can be broken down into several steps.

1. Find and define the problem, question, or situation. What is it about money, love, career, or what? Who is it about self, family, friends, or who? Where and when is it taking place? Why and how is it meaningful?

For example, suppose you want the cards to suggest whether you should give up on a present project (job, relationship) that's stumping you, or start fresh on a new one. Here's one way to come up with a spread: Let one card position be your present situation; let a second card position be the new situation.

2. Define the issues, parameters, categories of the question. How does this involve the senses, the mind, the emotions, or the spirit (the four Zoas)? Are we dealing with colors or shapes, with structure and magnitude, with feelings or music, with morals or principles? What are the important elements and needs?

In the example, you decide you want to gain more information. In particular, you want more information about the reasons to hold on or to let go. How can you do this with the cards?

3. Generate possible ideas for spreads. What systems of thought can be applied here metaphysical, psychological, economic, or what? What existing spreads can be used or adapted to this situation? If you are using the Symbol Windows, what kind of symbol sets can be used to describe or deal with the issues involved?

In the example, beneath card 1 of the old situation, let another card position signify a reason to stay with your present situation and to keep working at it. And beneath that, let another position signify a reason to quit your situation. Then, beneath card 2 of your new situation, let another card position signify what you hope to gain from it. And beneath that, another card position to signify what you might lose in the new situation.

4. Select the best idea(s) and try them out. Lay out the trial spread. Do one or more readings, and then evaluate. Did you understand the reading? Does the outcome help you to answer the question or solve the problem? What refinements can be made to improve the process?

In the example, you should now try to do a reading with your six-card spread. After trying it out, you might find that the question is answered simply by going through the spread. If not, work along these same ideas until your spread works for you.