Yesterday I started working through a new book, Tarot For Your Self by Mary K. Greer. I thought this workbook would be useful, but I’m only three chapters in and Ms. Greer has already blown me away. She writes about how to use tarot for self readings, investigating deeper into your (obviously) self. I can’t rave enough about this book, at least about what I’ve read to this point.
One tool that I found particularly useful is Greer’s breakdown on how to do a three card body/mind/spirit reading. She includes a two page fill-in-the-blank section guiding the reader into a deep interpretation. I tried it out last night, and even on the first time out gained a much deeper insight into the individual cards and the greater message. I decided to do it again this morning, and have copied Greer’s prompts and my thoughts on each below. Greer’s words are in italics, while my responses are not.
Note your first impressions: The expressions on the characters are mostly somber, and everyone seems as if they might be cold.
What do you see?: On the Three of Pentacles, there are three individuals gathered around what I see as a Christmas tree or a tree of bounty. They seem pleasant and festive. The Six of Swords shows a somber woman, dressed ornately in blues with an ornate crown and six swords resting point-down at her sides. She is releasing a bird, who is singing a lovely song, or a song of love. The High Priestess card shows a powerful, mysterious woman who is performing some sort of night magic in the woods, with the full moon at her back and serpents and nymphs attending her.
What colors?: Mostly greens and blues.
What does the number on each card mean to you?: The number three symbolizes wholeness, completeness, and the three part God of Christianity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit). The number six means nothing except that it is three doubled. The number two also has no particular significance to me, other than it seems to indicate importance.
What human figures or animals do you see?: The Three of Pentacles features three young people (two men and a woman? it’s hard to tell), as well as some flying insects, a bird or a bat, and a few suspicious-looking bunnies. The Six of Swords features the graceful woman with blonde hair and her bird, while the High Priestess features herself and some insects, snakes, and nymphs or sprites.
What is the environment of each card?: All three cards seem to be outdoors, although the Three of Pentacles has an ornate floor, not something you’d find in nature — perhaps this is in a garden? The Six of Swords seems to be in a wild, marshy area without any high trees, and the High Priestess is in the woods. The first card seems to be in the afternoon, the second in the evening, and the third in deep night.
What symbols are there?: On the Three of Pentacles there are pentacles in the sunflowers, diamonds, circles on the floor, and pyramids, spheres, and cubes on the “tree.” On the Six of Swords I see the swords, as well as flowers, a heart on her dress, and the flying bird. On the High Priestess card there are eyes, a pomegranate or some other fruit representing fertility, and the snakes.
Can you describe the cards in terms of an emotion? How do you feel when you look at each of them: Apprehensive? Expectant? Glad? Sad? Angry?: The Three of Pentacles makes me feel expectant and festive, comforted by companionship. The Six of Pentacles makes me feel sad and lonely. The High Priestess’s mystery makes me feel both nervous and intrigued, and perhaps respectful.
Note which way the figures in the cards face. Write down the relationships you see.: All the figures on the cards are facing forward, unaware of each other. Only the woman on the Six of Swords looks away, toward the High Priestess, but she is only following the flight of her bird. The three people on the Three of Pentacles are aware of each other, but it is a closed group. The High Priestess is watching me.
Now relate each card to its position meaning.
Body: The state of your physical body and the environment. Habits and automatic responses. How you ground yourself. How you’ve been manifesting yourself and things you have produced. Often the origin or source of the situation. Feelings. My Body Card is telling me: . . . that I need companionship. Not only do I need it in spirit and mind, but I also get physical benefits from intimacy and interaction with friends, loved ones, and the community. The group of three is inviting me in, and I want to join them. There is power in community and teamwork, and health for me there, too.
Mind: What you are thinking about and are consciously aware of dealing with. The way you reason and rationalize things; your attitudes. The state of mind in which you approach the reading. My Mind Card is telling me: . . . that I feel sad? I’m not sure here. That I need to release things, let things go, and go with the flow? And that that will be hard, but good? I’m not sure at all. The Little White Book says (I only referred to it now, after giving my own interpretations a shot) that this card indicates “recovering from trauma, feeling sad, starting over, coping, moving toward hopeful conditions.” I can certainly identify with all of these things in relation to my recovery from disordered eating and starting a new way of life and finding ways to cope without abusing food and my body. I am grieving the “loss” of my old habits, but there is hope in the loss, just as there is hope in the released bird on the card.
Spirit: Your ideals, goals, and aspirations. The spirit is like your higher self offering new possibilities and advice on how you can work through your problems. You tend to be drawn toward manifesting what the card indicates. If the card is negative, you might be blocking or resisting the things your spirit wants you to see. My Spirit Card is telling me: . . . to embrace mystery, to stop over-thinking everything, to embrace my femininity. It is no accident, I believe, that the High Priestess’s belly is full of eyes crowding around a scroll. For quite some time I have hated my belly — because it was fat and flubby, because it was bloated, because it was never exactly what I wanted it to be. When I was at my skinniest, I completely lost my menstruation due to self-starvation. This seems to be the ultimate denial of the truth that I am a woman. Not a girl, and certainly not a boy, but fully female. The High Priestess is exhorting me to listen to my intuition, and to embrace the miraculous mystery that is my womanhood. Also, the High Priestess is my life’s Soul Card, and is always particularly significant in any self-reading.
Connect the three cards you drew into one statement. Can you weave a story, or tell a tale using what you see inthe cards? Write down your own message using the following format:
While my body wants community and relationship, my mind is telling me that I need to let some old unhealthy and isolating habits go, yet my spirit is urging me to delve deep into my self and nurture my intuition and my womanhood.
Whew! Are you overwhelmed yet? Don’t worry, this type of interpretation is easier when taken one step at a time. And Greer doesn’t stop there — after this section, she guides the reader in delving even deeper into the reading, taking on the past/present/future meanings of the three card spread.
I’m loving this book and highly recommend it. I also recommend checking out Mary K. Greer’s blog. Yesterday I emailed her through the contact page on the blog with a question, and she responded promptly. How cool is that?
What do you think of this guide for interpreting the three card body/mind/spirit thread? Will you try it out for yourself?