"If Only" Spread by Valerie Sim-Behi and Mark Filipas

This spread helps you to look at that "if only", "should have been" or "not quite" that some of us continue to chew on and agonize over. This would be that event or memory that you drag out for a little self-torture when your thoughts would be much more productive elsewhere. This is that which you cling to as an excuse for further stumbling, stopping or stalling. "If only this had happened", you whine, "I could have done ________." You reason that if only such-and-such had occurred early on that "Life would be different!"

How is dwelling on these ideas/memories benefical? How is this painful re-hashing building your future?... Now look at this differently. "If only" is an event that WOULD have made things different. It is something that would 
have put you somewhere other than your present circumstances. But how many blessings that you can currently count would you have missed if this "if only" had come to pass? How many people, places, etc. would you have missed out on if this had been the road taken? 

And, more importantly, what sort of dis-service are you doing yourself now when you indulge in this *backwards-think*? You are not just chewing on yesterday, you are waxing negatively on tomorrow... 

So we proceed to the layout which offers a numerological workthrough for that old issue and a positive new forward path:


                        7      8

                    4      5       6

                        2      3


1 = Ace position. Potential; first cause; promise - This is the path we did not take, the realities that will not manifest, the alternate (potential) realities that we are unresolved about (and that we have to let go of) .
Acknowledge this and move on.

2 = Two spot. Duality; choice; decisions - Here are all the issues that played a part in our decision-making process, the environment at the time of our choice, our consideration of the pros-and-cons. The quandary itself.

3 = Three. Synthesis; growth; natural repercussions -This is the choice that we actually made, and *it's* implications. Though you think you know all about issue, perhaps you will still find something in this card that you had missed in your previous pre-occupation?

4 = Four. Foundations; stability; solidity - Here is the foundation on which you build anew. Study this card and see a hint of something you can use positively as you move forward. This can hint at a structure you have been 
missing, an organization you need, or a person that can help to guide you.

5 = Five. Change; progress; adjustments; challenges - Here you get a glimpse of some necessary change or struggle that you will need to experience in order to move on to the next level. This might be a new challenge or it might be an "oh no, not again". Either way, it is positive in that it is necessary for further growth.

NOTE: Position Five sits right in the middle of this spread. One of the most traditional meanings, we think, of the numeral five is the concept of the quintessence, or 'Inspiration'. So many of the occult writings attribute this idea to the five, that it is the fifth element, the spiritual essence, entering in to the form (the four previous elements). This is the meaning of the Hierophant, and in fact 'Inspiration' is the occult term given to Trump V by several authors, especially the French occultists. We believe that this is the (often glossed over) reason that the fifth card of each suit is so often seen as a difficult card - it is, in reality, the bestowing of the breathof life to each element, but the static, lifeless four (the still, lifeless element) does not like to be disturbed! The concept of
'motion' is strongly given (by many authors) to the number five as well, largely because this influx of spirit is the first point where the elements are animated, the point where they are given consciousness.

So take special note of this card and this number! By being in the middle of the entire spread; it is the heart of the matter; the quintessencial force, or lesson, which can resolve the entire issue, or move it onward. 

6 = Six. Balance; harmony; relaxation; equilibrium - Now you have permission to pause. Stop and smell the roses. Let this card hint at a way you might pause to refresh. Is this a vacation? A new spiritual practice? Something you can do to make your life a little easier as you move forward? Don't miss this peak experience.

7 = Seven. Spirituality; wisdom; magic; multiple options - This is a new direction. Multiple options are presented after the previous pause. This is where you "make or miss the magic!" From a point of inner work and spirituality, you now choose to move on. Which direction is best indicated here?

8 = Eight. Regenerating; rebirth; re-evaluating - This has to do with the priorites on your new path/direction. Use this card to help you re-evaluate and prioritize your next move, for movement is clearly indicated with this 
card. Feel the correct vibration. Use that energy wisely to continue forward.

9 = Nine. Conclusion; integration; attainment - You are glimpsing completion, conclusion, fulfillment. What do you see here? How can you perform a final integration to manifest attainment? Into what can you rebuild those previous doubts and hindrances? :-)

Valerie Sim-Behi is the founder and moderator of Comparative Tarot, an email list devoted to studying cards of different decks  in comparison to each other.   She has worked with the tarot for over 30 years, recently attending a Blake Tarot Workshop with Ed Buryn.  Valerie created a spread that will appear in the book accompanying the Victoria-Regina Tarot by Sarah Ovenall, and has written various articles, including one on the Comparative Tarot method that will be published in Llewellyn's Tarot Calendar 2002.  You can visit Valerie at the Comparative Tarot website.

Mark Filipas lives in Portland, Oregon and works as a freelance graphic designer. His interest in the Tarot began in 1973, when he was 'hooked' at a young age by occult writings on the Trumps. His website, 'The Pasteboard Masquerade', features detailed reviews of unusual decks in his collection, as well as featuring some of the philosophical considerations which make the study of Tarot so intriguing.


Spread Valerie Sim-Behi and Mark Filipas 2000
Page Diane Wilkes 2000