Tarot is an excellent tool for spiritual work; most of us who use and love the cards know this. One common method is to incorporate the cards into a meditation practice, often by using one card as a portal. Adding scent (via candles, incense, or essential oils) to meditation can enhance the practice. This post combines all three: tarot, meditation, and scent.
Instead of using a single card as a touchstone, this spread allows you to create a loosely guided visual meditation.
To lay this spread, separate your deck into stacks: the 22 Majors, the 16 Court cards, and the 40 Minors. Shuffle each stack.
Lay out the cards, drawing from the appropriate pile, as indicated below:
The spread is then only very loosely interpreted. In fact, it is not really interpreted. It provides the outline for your guided meditation. The Major Arcana card in the Theme position is the main point of the “story” that will form during your meditation. The Court Card in the Main Character position is the character who experiences the story. The last 3 cards (drawn from the Minor Arcana sans Court cards) give the main plot points: beginning, middle, and end. They are what the main character experiences and through which he or she learns something about the theme.
Here is an example, using cards from the lovely and evocative Anna K Tarot:
Don’t try to flesh out the ideas too much, just create enough of a framework to give the mind a little direction…then let it flow and see what your higher self reveals.
In this outline, we have an independent, powerful, and passionate man (Kind of Wands) who learns about control and being controlled (Strength). He begins in love (2 of Cups), hears about something of interest (Ace of Pentacles), and finds himself somewhere that is not to his liking (4 of Cups).
Once you have laid your cards and created your outline or general story, situate yourself comfortably, prepare for meditation as you usually do (if you don’t usually meditate, quiet your mind, moderate and feel your breath, relax from your toes to your head, ask your higher self to guide you), then picture the main character, imagine the first scene, and let your mind take it from there.
Many people like to follow up such a meditation with journaling. Journal about the experience, exploring such questions as: what did you learn about the theme? The Court Card? Any of the Minors? Yourself?
As with any spread, you can alter this in any number of ways. If you want to explore a particular Major of Court Card, select it and use it rather than drawing a card at random for that position.
If you want to study how some or all of the courts would react in the same situation, select all the cards and sue the same spread, swapping out only the court cards. For example, use The Tower for the Theme, and the 2 of Cups, 6 of Swords, and the 8 of Pentacles for the beginning, middle, and end. How would the Page of Cups experience this story? How would it change if the King of Swords lived it?
Using this spread will give you a great meditation. Add to it a little scent and see what you think.
Allow me to introduce you to:
Even single scents can be a complex experience. Take Atlas Cedarwood for example. Open your bottle and inhale, all up close and personal. More than likely, you’ll pull your head back, overcome by the medicinal, camphor-esque scent assaulting your nose. Courage, dear reader, courage. Take a drop and warm it on your wrist (unless you are pregnant, then borrow a friend’s wrist). Wait a few moments, until the top note dissipates. Sit back, close your eyes, and breathe in the scent. Breathing in is different than sniffing—it’s slower, more natural. After a few more breaths, slow down the rhythm, let your chest rise and lower more deeply. Now open your eyes.
Feels good, right? Here’s what happened, mundanely and magically. The camphor-like smell expressed the anti-septic, anti-fungal, anti-all-yucky-things property of the oil. It helped cleanse your aura, your chakras, your etheric body. The woodsy-piney-balsamy middle scent indicated that the cleansing, anti-clogging part was doing its job, letting you ground and connect to Mama Earth. Finally, Cedarwood has a slight sweet floral after-scent that enhances that happy, relaxed feeling you get when you’re clean and grounded.
This oil works great for meditation, particularly if you are doing chakra or cleansing work. Because it cleanses, encourages proper flow, grounds, and relaxes, it can be a magical oil all on its own, charged for your own purposes. It also plays well with others and does, for example, blend beautifully with clary sage and lavender, a little trio that really deepens any meditative or journey work.
If you like spreads, you might like my book Tarot Spreads: Layouts & Techniques to Empower Your Readings