Tarot Passages February 2004 Spread
The I-Ching Spread by Elizabeth Hazel

It's fun to mix the tarot with other oracles, and there are few oracles that are as useful as the ancient Chinese I-Ching.  This spread is designed to show the condition of the whole person, as well as deriving the numbers to create an I-Ching hexagram.  In order to perform this spread, begin by separating a tarot deck into trump cards, court cards, and pip cards. 

Take the stack of Trump cards, shuffle, and draw one.  You may either take the card from the top of the stack, or fan them and choose one.  Place it face down on the table – this card occupies the central position in the reading.

Next take the stack of pip cards and shuffle them.  Taking cards from the top of the stack, place the first six cards into the positions as indicated in the layout graph.  These cards are placed face up, but the trump card in the center remains face down.  The card positions represent parts of the body:


Card #1:  The Head – Thoughts, ideas and attitudes.

Card #2:  The Heart – Emotions, feelings, sentiments

Card #3:  The Hands – Actions, talents, abilities, relating and exchanging with others

Card #4:  The Gut – Instincts, impulses, urges

Card #5:  The Butt – Desire or animal nature; inertia or resistance

Card #6:  The Feet – Movement, travel, propulsion; connections to the environment. 

Card #7:  The Whole (Trump card at the center) – The “genius” or “daimon” that represents the whole self at this time; the current stage of development.  

In order to derive a hexagram from this spread, start by making a list on a piece of paper, numbers one through six, with number one at the bottom.  This is how I-Ching hexagrams are constructed.  Next, write the numeric designation of each pip card next to the number of its position in the spread, and note if it is an even or odd number, as shown below:

            6.  10 of Pentacles       even

            5.  9 of Swords            odd

            4.  2 of Wands             even

            3.  3 of Pentacles         odd

            2.  5 of Wands             odd

            1.  4 of Swords            even

Even numbers represent a broken line, odd numbers a solid line (some books suggest the opposite, i.e., odd = broken, even = solid.  Use the method of your choice).  The hexagram derived from the pip cards looks like this:

                                                ___  ___


                                                ___  ___



                                                ___  ___

Use an I-Ching book (or the website provided below) to look up the number of the hexagram, and when it is found, read the advice given for it.  For those who have not used I-Ching before, a graphic table of trigrams (three lines) is used to find the hexagram (the complete form of six lines).  A match for the lower trigram is sought in the graph along the vertical list of trigrams, and the upper trigram is sought on the top horizontal line of trigrams.  In this example, the bottom three lines form the trigram “Sun,” and the top three are the trigram “Kan.”   Following the rows down from Kan and across from Sun, the hexagram found here is #48 – Tzhing – The Well

Read the meaning of the hexagram and ponder upon its significance.  Compare the hexagram to the meaning of the pip cards.  In this example, the cards that occupy the Head, Heart and Butt positions show an emotional conflict that is unsettling the querent.  The Heart is churning with speculation (5 of Wands) and the Gut senses opportunity (2 of Wands) but the Head and Butt seem paralyzed by uncertainty and the inertia of anxiety (4 and 9 of Swords).  Meanwhile, the Hands and Feet seem to be busy with practical tasks (3 and 10 of Pentacles).  The hexagram, The Well, suggests trusting one’s knowledge of human nature and previous experience without falling into the error of generalizing or making assumptions that deny others their individuality.  The tarot spread seems to indicate that the querent is having a hard time trusting their judgment, and is reluctant to act upon their speculations about future possibilities. 

When the combined wisdom of the hexagram and the six pip cards has been analyzed, turn over the trump card in the central position.  Compare the meanings of the hexagram and trump card for similarities and contradictions. 

Moving Lines 

Some I-Ching books follow the meaning of a hexagram with six different pieces of advice.  These are used if the hexagram contains a moving line.  When using three coins to create a hexagram, (making six throws of the coins and totting up the total of each throw to calculate even or odd numbers) occasionally one will throw a combination of three heads or three tails.  The system I use is heads = two, and tails = three.  Three of a kind creates a moving line, a line that changes from solid to broken, or broken to solid.  The numbers that represent a broken line are six (formed with three heads) and nine (formed with three tails). 

If a pip card with a designation of six or nine appears in a spread, it may be used to represent a moving line.  In the example above, the fifth position contains the Nine of Swords, so the fifth line is a moving line.  If your book includes these meanings, look up the meaning for the moving line.  After the meaning of the original hexagram has been read, the hexagram is adjusted to show the moving line’s new form:

                                                ___  ___

                                                ___  ___   *

                                                ___  ___



                                                ___  ___

Notice that the fifth line is now a broken instead of a solid line.  Once again, look up the trigrams in the I-Ching graph.  The upper trigram is now “Kun,” three broken lines, while the lower trigram remains “Sun.”  The hexagram derived from these two trigrams is #46 – Sheng – Pushing Upward (or The Ascent). 

If a hexagram contains a moving line, it indicates that the situation will be changing from the description of the original hexagram into the conditions shown by the second hexagram created by adjusting the moving line to its new form.  In the case of this example, The Well, a deep, unmoving resource, becomes a vital, upwardly moving force. 

The central trump card in this sample spread is Justice.  In the first hexagram, the I-Ching recommends trusting one’s previous experience to make judgments.  The moving line (#5) suggests that what is needed is offered if the individual can identify who is doing the offering.  The card that supplied this moving line, the Nine of Swords, is in the “Butt” position of the spread – this is the position that indicates the desire nature, inertia or resistance.  Anxiety is evident; perhaps a fear of opening up and not receiving what is desired.  The following hexagram advises using the intelligent will, deliberately and consciously.   The Justice card coordinates a strategy with both of these hexagrams, emphasizing the benefits of partnership and cooperation as the current situation develops.  This is also a card of logic and intellect, as well as formal agreements.  A deliberate approach to the situation can be used to move the situation forward, with a recommendation to base this movement on the resources provided by The Well: courtesy, kindness, and consideration of the other person’s feelings. 

Any deck can be used to perform this spread, although I like using decks with an oriental flavor for this purpose.  These include the Ukiyoe Tarot, the Chinese Tarot, and the Feng Shui Tarot. 


The I Ching on the Net

Sam Reifler.  I Ching:  A New Interpretation for Modern Times.  New York, Bantam, 1991.  (I like this I Ching book because it uses more modern language and includes the moving lines.  The downside of this book is its tendency toward mildly cheesy pop psychology and Zen philosophies emphasized in the text).

Elizabeth Hazel is an astrologer and tarotist who specializes in blending these two forecasting techniques.  Her new book, Tarot Decoded: Understanding and Using Dignities and Correspondences,  will be released by Weiser Books in May 2004.  Liz stays busy with private readings and tarot parties, and is working on a second book.  She lives in Toledo, Ohio.

Spread © 2004 Elizabeth Hazel
Page © 2004 Diane Wilkes