Last week January 7, 2015 I commenced my guest series here on BiddyTarot talking about how to analyze a tarot reading through the Five Components of Circumstance framework part 1. The Five Components is based on the Chinese metaphysical theory that any future can be divined so long as we understand the five components that affect sentient life: fate, luck, fengshui, karma, and education. I’ve reinterpreted those five factors as Force Majeure, Karma, which we covered in Part 1, and Disposition, Education, and Action, which I will cover in this post before putting it all together.
The Five Components of Circumstance, Continued
Disposition is our personality, our character. For me, character always makes or breaks a story. An individual’s outlook greatly determines his or her future. Disposition is usually the easiest to pick up on in a tarot reading. Most readings, as any experienced reader will tell you, offers a lot of insights into someone’s personality and how that personality affects the situation.
The Seven of Wands, for example, shows the personality in a seeker that comes out when that seeker is being pushed up against the edge of a cliff. The Four of Pentacles and Six of Pentacles both tell us a lot about a person’s character, because how we use our money tells us about our disposition. The suit of Swords often reveal how a character is being built, what scars are being formed (which often affects character) and what is going on in a seeker’s thought plane.
Upright courts can often indicate how disposition supports the matter at hand while reversed courts show the traits that are holding that seeker back.Thus, most of you are probably reading tarot through the disposition component already without directly expressing your methodology with five components vocabulary.
Disposition and Education in the Courts
The knowledge and experiences you acquire can empower you and enable you to make better life decisions. Teaching yourself how to read tarot and using tarot for optimized use of your intuition is a great example of applying education to improve the components of your life circumstances. Education encompasses the skills you pick up, forming positive habits, the training you undergo, and of course, your life experiences.
The Chinese consider education to be the most important of the five components. Knowledge always overtakes fate, luck, fengshui, and karma. Likewise, the knowledge and training we pick up can influence our future outcome. The High Priestess, The Hierophant, Eight of Pentacles, or see Brigit’s post, “Top Ten Tarot Cards for Study and Education.”
When offering insights to the seeker based on the spread, look to see if any of the cards in the spread denote education, like classes the seeker might want to consider taking, picking up new interests or hobbies, continuing education in a professional field, etc. See the above chart for my general correspondences. Thus, for example, if a Page of Pentacles appears in a reading, as a secondary meaning, especially if the seeker has a career inquiry, the card might suggest education, or picking up more knowledge and experiences in business, accounting, or property management.
Action is doing everything within one’s power to counter the forces against us. Per the Chinese cosmology, even if the four other components are stacked unfavorably against you, you can still change the course of your life path favorably through equal and opposite action against those four components. Action is all about taking matters into your own hands. Remember: to prevail, action must be greater than and opposite to the other four components of circumstances.
There is also a metaphysical aspect to action. I integrate concepts of fengshui under action. Fengshui is about aligning and harmonizing your personal energy with the energies of your environment and surroundings. For example, you can arrange your home in a way that allows optimal flow of energy to bring in the optimal flow of opportunities to you. Beyond that, action is the willful acts you take to put yourself in the direct line of activities that will more likely enable you to accomplish your goals.
Applying the Five Components in a Tarot Reading
In any tarot reading, I like to keep the Five Components in the back of my head as I interpret a spread. Use any spread. Let’s take a look at how we can apply the five components to a simple three-card reading.
The above is a hypothetical reading for a seeker we will call Monica. Monica asked about her love life. She is single right now, has been single for some time, and wants to know what might be in store for her going forward. Let’s assume the practitioner begins with The Star card and the practitioner reads that card as indicative of Monica’s hopeful, optimistic outlook, a gentle, compassionate soul who sees the glass half full. Monica has a lot to offer another, and she is likely someone with intuitive healing energy.
Once that has been established, the practitioner can then go through the Five Components inquiry. Start with Force Majeure. How might The Star relate to Force Majeure in Monica’s life? What about karmic influences? Say that after going through the five components, the practitioner intuits that The Star card here refers toMonica’s Disposition, someone who remains hopeful in spite of her personal history. That kind of a disposition is keeping her in the optimal frame of mind for meeting a great catch. Thus, The Star card could suggest that it is Monica’s character that is going to lead her toward a great mate. Reminding Monica of that facet of her personality and how her optimism and compassion are what will lead her straight to her desired outcome. Doing so will help Monica stay attentive to maintaining thosetraits.
The Three of Cups appears in reverse, which means the upright energy of the card is weakened, inverted, negated, or delayed. Say that the practitioner reads the Three of Cups here as indicative of festivities and celebrations among friends. The reversal changes that energy and causes an imbalance. That imbalance might manifest in Monica’s life as a fear of being physically alone, and so she exposes herself to shallow social settings, perhaps festivities in the extreme. Moreover, the positioning of the card suggests that the indication of the Three of Cups in reverse is central to Monica’s love prognostics.
Which of the five components might the Three of Cups here represent? Start again with Force Majeure. The card is not likely to indicate an external circumstance in Monica’s life because the message refers to her behavior. She’s in control here. Karma may come into play if she is not careful. Disposition is a factor, though what seems to stand out is Action, or a message of forbearance from action.
Spending too much time involved in superficial social settings leaves little time for inner reflection. When the numerological emanation of “three” is in flux, personal development will be hindered. Reading the Three of Cups reversed as an Action card reveals the message to Monica to take a leave of absence from fair weather friends. When all that extraneous noise is silenced in her life, she’ll more clearly see who that prospective love is promised in the final card.
The final card, the Two of Cups suggests a very positive outcome for Monica in love.In addition to reading the card as one ordinarily would, supplement that reading with a Five Components inquiry. Here a practitioner will have to look inward at how he or she interprets the Two of Cups.
What does the Two of Cups in this context mean for you? Is it Force Majeure, a love at first sight? Is it a love borne out of an enduring friendship? If so, Education would tell Monica to look for someone with a similar educational or professional background as herself. Action might present Monica with a decision that she will have to make: someone in her life who is a good friend already could in fact be the love of her life. Is she willing to take it to the next level?
I don’t see the five components as an isolated, independent technique for reading tarot. Rather, it’s a specific set of five lenses through which we practitioners can use at times to see a reading through a different perspective.
The principle of the five components is not groundbreaking. It’s just another set of vocabulary you can use. Yet improving your vocabulary improves your ability to express the full range of your ideas, emotions, and intuitions. Thus, the five components framework enhances your tarot approach and helps you to better pinpoint exactly what the variables of success are for a seeker.Image Credits: All card images from the Anna.K Tarot (Llewellyn, 2013) by Anna Klaffinger
About Benebell Wen
Benebell Wen is the author of Holistic Tarot, An Integrative Approach to Using Tarot for Personal Growth (North Atlantic Books, January 6, 2015). Visit her at www.benebellwen.com.
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