Reading with the Avalon Tarot by Diane Wilkes
The querent is a talented artist and musician who is presently a member of a band. He feels that this band has the potential to go far, but is concerned that his songwriting and ideas are ignored. He knows he will eventually have to leave the band in order to actively pursue his dreams, but isn't sure when that should be.
I used the storytelling spread Riccardo Minetti created for Lo Scarabeo's Children's Tarot. Click here to see more information about this spread. I chose this spread because the querent is an idealistic individual whom I thought would resonate with a spread that incorporated his story into a structured tale of the archetypal hero.
1) Hero - Knight of Wands
Talk about typecasting! I said the querent was an idealistic individual, didn't I? That does describe the Knight of Wands to a tee. On a clear autumn day, this Knight rides with the wind, tilting at windmills with only one thing on his mind--succeeding at his righteous mission. His horse is decorated with jangling bells and the Knight himself wears a dramatic red cape (much like Superman!). Flowers bloom on the open road, but he doesn't see them, because his eyes are focused straight ahead. In the Avalon Tarot, this Knight is Gaheris, one of the most talented members of the Round Table, and, according to the LWB, represents the traveler and the spirit of adventure.
One thing the querent needs to recognize is that he LIKES adventure, and this band offers that opportunity in a way that solo work would not at this time. If the band continues to be successful, traveling is definitely a possibility. If he strikes out on his own now, traveling opportunities will be limited.
2) Teacher - The Sun
Unlike most Sun cards, the Tarot of Avalon version sports a rather determined-looking knight--he just happens to be Galahad, the one Knight able to find the Holy Grail because of his virtuous nature. This teacher speaks to the querent of the importance of holding fast to his highest values and recognizing that his gifts are precious and need to be valued as such. He needs to be steadfast in pursuing his dreams (which include recognition for his songwriting), as Galahad was in pursuing the Grail. Lancelot got distracted...but not Galahad. No matter how long the querent stays with this band, he must not allow himself to become distracted by their future triumphs, as his path is for individual redemption.
3) Bad Guy - Seven of Swords
The Avalon Tarot Seven of Swords depicts Lancelot confessing his secret sins to a wizened priest, indicating that the querent's oppressor might be hiding something, and there may be some things going on in the band of which the querent is presently unaware. Lancelot betrays his best friend, Arthur. This could speak to an imminent betrayal of the querent by people whom he considers his friends.
As a reader whose focus is primarily psychological, I must also see this card as the shadow aspect of the hero/querent. Perhaps he is overwhelmed with guilt because as a member of a band, there is a camaraderie he enjoys (much like the atmosphere of the Round Table), yet he is always considering his imminent departure in the midst of this environment. Lancelot expects a lot of himself, and grieves about his imperfections. The querent could be holding himself up to an unreasonably high standard, and could feel he has no right to his ambitions, even as he knows that he is meant to shine individually and is stifled in his present situation. There is also an almost melodramatic feel to this card--artists always feel things so deeply! Perhaps he is struggling more than he needs to about this issue, and instead of having it perpetually on his mind, the querent could concentrate more on his goal. He can choose to be Galahad, above the emotional fray, not Lancelot, who was enmeshed in it.
4) Mission - Ten of Wands
Yet another religious image, the Avalon Tarot Ten of Wands shows a man praying, rosary beads binding his hands. It is Lancelot, taking his convent vows--after all of his adventures! The mission seems clear. The querent isn't wrong to consider his individual dreams--they are his ultimate, inevitable reward. But there's also a place for adventure--and right now, his place is with this band. The experiences are an essential part of his development. Again, as long as he remembers his ultimate destiny, he needs to "go with the flow." If Lancelot allowed himself second and third guesses as he battled foes, he'd have been knocked off his horse all the time, instead of winning his reputation as an estimable Knight. The querent must go through his own "matches" before he can move on to a more solitary plane.
5) Problem - Knight of Pentacles
Arthur's foster brother Kay is a rather mundane fellow with considerable self-esteem issues--and he is the inspiration for the plodding Knight of Pentacles in the Avalon Tarot. The querent/hero's problem is his self-esteem. When he feels he isn't as good as someone else (who might have many more years experience), he wonders whether his dreams are grandiose fantasies of which he is unworthy. Until he conquers his inner-Kay, he will not be able to move forward in his quest. Kay is considered a practical plodder in Arthurian myth, and when the querent is filled with self-doubt, he doesn't try to "move beyond his station." The querent must remember he isn't Kay--he is Galahad, a Knight with gifts who has the potential for greatness.
6) Help - Nine of Wands
This card shows Guinevere being advised by an elder advisor, Tarquin. According to the LWB, this card represents experience and wisdom derived from age. The querent looks young, but is, in fact, rather old for the rock and roll scene. His age and experience have given him the gift of perspective in this matter, and if he can concentrate on what he knows, instead of personal issues, he can overcome his problems and find the right path with ease. He has the wisdom to know when it's time to leave, and he needs to trust in that wisdom instead of raging against shadows.
This card also speaks to a literal advisor, someone older in the querent's life to whom he can turn with questions. If he doesn't know whom this potential mentor is, perhaps he should consider the possibilities.
7) Reward - The Emperor
This is King Arthur, of course, and I can't think of a more perfect reward for this reading. This card represents structure, strength, and an owning of one's own authority and leadership. The querent should feel comforted by this card, and know that he is definitely moving in the right direction. Even Arthur didn't start out as King (or the leader of a band), and the querent needs to pay his dues, just as Arthur did. Eventually, he will have the leadership and control of his life (and music) that he desires.
The preponderance of Wands in this reading (three out of seven cards) speaks to the abundant creativity of the querent, and the need for him to continue to move and grow in the present path he has chosen. The lack of Cups in the reading indicates that the querent needs to remove the emotional component as much as possible from the present situation that concerns him.
As I look over this reading, I can't help but notice the yang energy that radiates from the cards. The two Major Arcana, the Emperor and the Sun, are attributed to Aries and the Sun respectively, and all the minors are wands and swords, with the exception of the one pentacle card. The querent tends to be rather yin in his approach to life, and I think this reading suggests that, in order to achieve his goals, he should put himself out there more than he usually does. Proactive doing instead of sensitive reflecting might be the way to go.
See a review of this deck here.
Reading and page © 2001 Diane Wilkes