This spread is based on some concepts of a fictional culture I’ve been working on for some time.
The Question: This spread is designed to give a general life-picture at the time of the reading, rather than to answer a very specific question. If something particular is on your mind, you may find some cards relevant to that question, while others refer to different aspects of your life.
Reversals: This spread makes use of reversals in a specific way. Upright cards are taken to refer to external events and situations, reversed cards are interpreted as internal or psychological. Hence your choice about whether (and how) to include reversals will change the type of reading you will get. Since the reversal is incorporated into the position meanings, you should probably not additionally use whatever reversed meanings you assign to the card.
My preferred way to use reversals for this spread is to invert about 1/7 of the deck for each of the classical astrological planets that is retrograde at the time I do the reading. In February 2005, Jupiter and Saturn are retrograde, and the other classical planets (Moon, Mercury, Venus, Sun, and Mars) are all in direct motion. So I would reverse about 2/7 of the cards in the shuffling process.
Layout: After shuffling, cut the deck and lay out eight cards in a circle, beginning at the top and proceeding clockwise.
Position 1 (top): The Mansion of the Bear. If upright, this card describes the situation you are immersed in, or will be soon. This is what is consuming your time, attention, and energy. The bear is a creature of great strength and mass, and so the situation represented in this card may feel overwhelming or larger than your own resources can handle.
If reversed, this card indicates your inner inertia: an aspect of your personality or habits that is unlikely to change, and pushes aside other considerations. Progress depends on your acknowledging your bear energy and being candid about it, with yourself and others.
Position 2 (upper right): The Mansion of the Eagle. If upright, this card indicates the role that is expected of you, and how you are perceived by others. What are you known for? What’s the basis for your reputation and authority?
If reversed, this card shows your inner ambition, your heart’s desire, “what you want to be when you grow up”.
Position 3 (right): The Mansion of the Beast. If upright, this card represent an external threat to your well-being. It may be a malicious or predatory person, a health problem, or an unfortunate situation or tragedy tossed in your path.
If reversed, the card shows your own dark side, an aspect of your personality that can turn aggressive or harmful if it is indulged.
Position 4 (lower right): The Mansion of the Horse. If upright, this card represents a friend, ally, or pragmatic resource available to you at this time. Something that will provide you with a simple sense of satisfaction and confidence if it is attended to conscientiously.
If reversed, this card reflects your image of independence and competence. What do you need to feel free, successful, and in control?
Position 5 (bottom): The Mansion of the Tortoise. If upright, this card indicates an activity or relationship that is source of security, stability, and grounding in your life. What you keep coming back to, perhaps without realizing it.
If reversed, this card shows where your wisdom and patience come from. What part of yourself do you reach into in order to recharge, re-center, and regain balance? What is the source of your personal endurance?
Position 6 (lower left): The Mansion of the Serpent. If upright, this card signals and unforeseen threat, a nasty surprise waiting in the grass. It may indicate a person is not what they seem, or a situation with issues below the surface.
If reversed, this card points to your own deviousness. What are you less than candid about (either in what you present to others or how you see yourself)?
Position 7 (left): The Mansion of the Fish. If upright, this represents a calming influence in your life, a way to reduce stress, or a situation which will be good for you if you go with the flow and relax.
If reversed, this card shows you where to look to develop your intuitive, spiritual sense. What is your bliss, your retreat and solace?
Position 8 (upper left): The Mansion of the Squirrel. If upright, this card depicts your social environment, your circle of friends and family, your human support system.
If reversed, this card shows how you express kindness and empathy toward others, or how you find opportunities for service.
Tom Tadfor Little works as a physicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory. He has been working with the tarot for several years, and has a special passion for tarot history and older decks. He co-authored Understanding the Tarot Court with Mary K. Greer.
Spread © 2005 Tom T. Little
Page © 2005 Diane Wilkes