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Anyone who is familiar with NLP will also likely be familiar with the Logical Levels model. This model, made popular by Robert Dilts, looks at how a person can make changes to their goals, life and dreams by examining 6 levels, or predefined areas that Dilts believes need to be congruent, or in alignment with each other for a person to be able to fulfill their desires and goals.
These 6 levels explore the areas of human thought and behaviour based on beliefs and your sense of self. It’s a seemingly simple model, mocked by some in NLP but hailed by others. I personally think it’s great introduction work into looking at yourself, or your goals and desires. It helps you identify where you are in, or out, of alignment with what you want to achieve. The levels are stacked because it’s believed that those at the lower levels are easier to change than those at the higher levels, ie, changing your environment or a behaviour is thought to be easier than changing your sense of self or identity.*
It’s thought that a change made at a higher level affects the lower levels; though change made at the lower levels doesn’t necessarily affect the higher levels. This is one of the criticisms of this model because of it’s hierarchical nature – some say that all levels should be equal, the sum part of the whole (you). What I have found during the testing phase of translating this into a Tarot Spread, is that this model as a Tarot Spread is in fact heterarchical; that is, the levels overlap and can accommodate multi-directional movement. For example, a change in your environment may indeed affect your behaviour.
Here’s a general image of Dilts’ model:
What’s most interesting, and at first confusing about the 6 levels in this model is that they are presented in a stack (levels), or as Dilts illustrates it, in a pyramind. Spirit sits at the top while the Environment is positioned on the bottom. The confusion comes in when we begin to examine those levels – we begin at the bottom, although our eyes naturally scan down from the top.
Let’s look a little closer at the individual levels
- This level represents where you live, your surroundings, your community, your family, your work etc. It can also represent your inner environment, your thoughts and feelings.
If you were looking to improve your health and fitness, you would look to your environment to see if your family and friends were supportive of your goal. It would also look to see if you lived close to a health club, classes or gymnasium, or indeed if your house itself could accommodate some basic equipment to help you.
- Your behaviour is what you do or don’t do, as the case may be. These can be deliberate behaviours or unconscious ones and will include habits, your daily routine, if you are decisive or procrastinate etc.
Keeping with the health example, we could look at what behaviours you already do or actions you take to help in improving your health. Do you eat healthily or do you have a penchant for junk food? Do you even exercise at all? Do you take the stairs instead of the lift at work? Are you behaivours helping or hurting?
- This is all about the how in life. How you do the things you do, your skill set and knowledge. Your capabilities will determine whether you can take on a new job or fitness regime, or if you need to acquire the necessary skills. For example, do you know enough about nutrition to make the right food choices? Do you understand the workings of your body so you can get the most out of your new regime?
- Beliefs and Values
- At this higher level, beliefs and values determine why you behave in a certain way, why you live where you do, why you are employed in the job you dislike. They shape our understanding of why things may appear impossible or possible to us. You make a judgement based on a belief and then follow that with an action, or behaviour and feel justified in your actions and assessment of the situation. This level will show whether you have a healthy attitude to money or if you put others before yourself, based on a ‘moral’ belief that actions like those are the right and proper ones.
- This level represents your sense of self, the who you are. Many of us take things personally because we feel that who we are is being attacked. If you feel criticised at this level, it’s most likely that you will defend yourself rigorously. Equally, doing something against your identity, or who you see yourself to be, will leave you feeling that you have betrayed yourself. The indentity level can represent you, as a single person, or a relationship, or group etc. It’s also at this level that you will be able to see the other levels at play.
- Spirit is at the highest level and represents our connectedness to the universe. It can represent the bigger picture of our lives, our higher selves, our mission or higher purpose, our spirituality. I have found this level also represents the ‘truer’ identity, the one we don’t necessarily acknowledge or see. When we look at changing specific things in our lives, this level often delivers a surprise in how we are seen or known by the Universe and the Tarot, not necessarily how we see ourselves – as I found out when I explored a health based question using this model.
So how does that relate to Tarot?
As the model of the Logical Levels stand, it translates into a fantastic Tarot spread if you want to examine where you are in your life right now. It provides an insightful snapshot of the here and now, the crux of who you are, what your capabilities are, your higher self, your core beliefs, your behaviours and whether your environment is conducive to your current path or development.
Each level can be seen as a ‘position’ in a spread, and each tarot card that lands in that position is your insight into where you are in relation to that level. Any ‘difficult’ cards can be seen to show a ‘chink’ in your alignment to achieving your goals. Don’t worry if you have some less than pleasant cards in your readings, they are doing you a favour by highlighting where you need to focus your attention. This also applies if you are doing a spiritual or general reading like the one below.
Although the original model is a vertical stack, the Logical Levels Tarot Spread is better presented horizontally as it’s more space conscious. If you want to keep with the original model, then by all means stack the cards in your reading.
We are tapping into your unconscious self with this tarot spread and exploration, which is one of the reasons why it works so well with tarot. When you work with this spread, make sure you use a deck you are very familiar with and one that contains a lot of symbology – the language of the unconscious. This is one tarot reading where you want to read the pictures and symbols as well as interpreting the traditional divinatory definitions of the cards.
The Logical Levels Tarot Spread
To show you the effectiveness of this seemingly simple tarot spread, I did a reading for myself and using the Legacy of the Divine, simply asked the Tarot :
Using the Logical Levels Model, where am I in my life right now?
The cards I drew were:
- Environment – 7 of Swords
- Behaviours – The World
- Capabilities – 6 of Wands
- Beliefs and Values – The Hermit
- Identity – 9 of Cups
- Spirit – Strength
Here’s a brief summary of my reading, using language to help you understand how the tarot cards relate to the positions and the levels they fall in. For a more in depth look at what this tarot reading means for me, please see the end of this post.
I’m living in a 7 of Swords environment where I’m behaving as the World using my 6 of Wands capabilities based on my beliefs as the Hermit. I see myself as the 9 of Cups but am in reality more akin to Strength.
The Logical Levels were designed to help you align to your goals, though I have used them here to better understand myself and find out where I am in my life. Join me in the next post, where I will show you just how effective the Logical Levels Tarot Spread is at helping you see where you may be out of alignment with the goals and dreams you are trying to achieve, and indeed, if you are already in alignment with them, as I found out after asking a series of questions about my own personal quests.
In depth analysis of my tarot reading
To see a full size image of the cards in the spread, just click on the thumbnails
7 of Swords – Well this was a turn up for the books! I really don’t feel that I’m in a dangerously deceptive place, or that those around me would seek to deceive me. I have a rather unsettled situation that I must deal with and I also have a legal matter that is being dealt with regarding one area of my environment. So this card, while not the best, is telling me of a potentially unsavoury situation, or someone, that I need to be very alert to. I’ve got my eye on that Magpie too & am taking stock of my jewellery as we speak.
The World – Are my behaviours all over the place? Or am I acting like I’m on top of the world? My feeling from this card is that my behaviours are many and congruent with my current situation. To help me understand this card better I would ask myself how am I acting in relation to this card. The World in the Legacy deck shows the Fool surrounded by the signs of the zodiac, reinforcing the idea that I’m currently able to behave, or act according to my environment. Thinking about the Environment card, the 7 of Swords, then my Worldly actions are ‘big’ enough to deal with whatever unpleasantness may be around me.
I did this spread a couple of weeks ago and received the 6 of Cups in this position – and interpreted it to mean that I was being sentimental about most things and acting in emotion. I have been doing some growth work since then and am really pleased to see the World here now, seems like my hard work is beginning to pay off.
6 of Wands – I saw this card and wondered what capabilities it showed me – horse riding? I’ve never ridden a horse, so it’s not that. Then I thought, ah, this is a general reading and so I shouldn’t be looking for anything specific here. So with that in mind, this card says to me that I have a lot of skills, capabilities and knowledge to do the things I’m planning, successfully. Coupled with the World card this combination is very reassuring.
Beliefs and Values
The Hermit – Beliefs and values are inward thoughts that express themselves in our actions – outwardly. It’s interesting to have the Hermit here considering how much growth work I’ve been doing, it seems that on a very inner level I’m protecting, and keeping inward, my beliefs and values. Perhaps I’m even holding onto some very tightly that I should be letting go of?
On a practical level, I believe the Hermit shows a shift in my beliefs to be more spiritually than materially based, despite the Hermit being an earth card. He is very grounding and not flighty at all and represents to me, Sensible Spirituality and ties in with my recent growth work. He also represents Virgo and I am a Virgo sun so I have an affinity with this guy. What’s interesting is what happens in the Spirit Level.
9 of Cups – Ah the cutsie, rose coloured glasses remain. I see myself as, or in, the 9 of Cups. It’s a beautiful image in the Legacy deck and speaks to me of abundance, but in a celebratory way (reminds me of the 6 of Wands). It’s still an ’emotion’ card, but is now the more stable 9 suggesting I have a better handle on my emotions and in such a way as to be able to share them freely. I must also remember this is how I see myself – and not necessarily how others see me – this is a reflection I like though and would like to keep it!
Strength – And so onto my core and how the Universe and the Tarot see me, who I really am right now under all the layers I’ve placed over myself. Before we go any further though, I want to refer back to the reading I mentioned earlier. In that reading, in this position, I pulled the 6 of Wands meaning it’s all about me! Adoration and adulation – I was horrified! I though OMG – I’m selfish and shallow and all the negatives I could think of. But the 6 of Wands isn’t really like that, not all the negatives, though it was the very card that prompted me to pursue some inner searching and some outward work – the growth work I’ve been talking about.
Seeing the Strength card now fall here is personally very satisfying and suggests that I’ve got a handle on my fiery ego in the best possible way. The 6 of Wands is also attributed to Leo and so to receive the Strength card (also Leo) shows the growth that has taken place within a couple of weeks, going from a minor card to a major archetypal one. From that personal growth work, I have been able to begin to temper my fire and direct it. I see the Strength card as the fire equivalent to the Hermit, grounding, strong and controlled and yet gentle and receptive.
And the interesting tease from the Beliefs Level?
In my natal astrology chart, the Hermit is my Sun Sign and the Strength card is my Rising Sign – which they say is your true face. I’ve often found it hard to temper the Maiden and the Lion, feeling extremes within myself but am now feeling reassured that I’m beginning to find the balance in two very strong archetypal characters – both of whom I resonate with. I think I’m only just learning to assimilate them and appreciate their strength of character and their archetypal nature. It’s so far been quite a journey.
See more of the gorgeous Legacy of the Divine in the Tarot Deck Gallery
Pro-Active Tarot Reading
- Grow Model Tarot Spread
- Logical Levels Tarot Spread
- Logical Levels Tarot Spread in Action!
- Tarot Elements Vision Spread
- Stepping Stones to Success Tarot Reading Method
*There is much debate in the NLP community as to whether this model is sound or, as I have read in many articles, that many believe the model doesn’t fit NLP criteria. It’s an interesting debate and many good arguments are presented. I have taken many of these on board but feel that Dilts’ model is in actual fact a great creation for exploring yourself and life using tarot and its symbology.