The Triangulation Tarot Spread
When I read tarot cards, whether in-person or for my awesome Tarot Stella or Solstice Star clients, I often feel like I am not so much interpreting the cards as I am eavesdropping on their conversation between one another. For me, the tarot deck is a living book of wisdom that is constantly moving and shifting parts, telling new stories, and uncovering old paths. Some cards are more talkative than others, but when they are cast in a spread they begin to talk amongst themselves about the question presented to them.
"The pain of this heartbreak is real and cannot be ignored any longer, no matter how many times we are told to 'get over it,'" says the Three of Swords.
"I know," nods the Eight of Swords, "it has led to us to being trapped by our own thoughts and ensorcelled by our feelings. Everything feels darkened now, hopeless and unsteady."
"But the fire of love is not gone," the Three of Wands gestures to a vast landscape of possibility. "It has simply moved. Elsewhere and unseen at the moment, but not truly lost."
In my class on card casting and creating custom spreads, we talk about the importance of the question. The question helps to set up the space for the conversation that the cards can have. Sometimes when we get confusing cards in our spread that seem to make little sense given our question, it's not that the cards are wrong or our ability to interpret them is lacking (though, sometimes the cards are cleverer than us and it is important to continue to cultivate a student's mind throughout your work with divination), but that the question did not allow for the answer to come through.
There is also the actual structure of the spread to consider when seeking information and insight. If you imagine, for example, each card in your spread to be a chair at the dinner table, what cards do you want to be close enough to each other so that they are able to talk without yelling from one end of the table to the other? In other words, what are the conversations you wish you could be having in order to gain further insight and how can you bring this to play in your spread.
It was in the spirit of experimentation and trying to recreate the complexity of conversations between multiple parties (whether the inquiry is along the lines of a she said / they said question or a question from our conscious mind to our subconscious mind or having a chat with our future self), I came up with the idea of a spread of moving pieces or The Triangulation Spread. While I very much enjoy simple spreads, there is plenty of space in my practice for stretching my divinatory muscles with a more complex piece of casting that I'm about to describe with the Triangulation Spread. Yet, what is fun about the spread is that it can be as simple or complex as you like and you can decide that as you go along as opposed to ahead of time giving the reader greater flexibility in gleaning knowledge from the cards.
The basic structure of the Triangulation Spread is three triangles of three cards each, with each triangle representing one segment or aspect of the inquiry. For the following sample reading, the querent is seeking insight into how to turn their interests - which are many and varied - into a career. The question is:
How can I focus my creative passion into a sustainable career?
Since our querent has many passions, the first triangle is one of self with a focus on the querent's strengths in order to help them figure out what passions may be best turned into a career path. The first triangle is the foundation stone of the spread - these cards will not move but will still interact with the other cards pulled which will be explained as we go along. For their triangle of self, the querent pulled the the Sibyl (or Queen) of Swords, the Two of Wands, and the Ten of Wands (inverted). I've given some brief interpretations as a full interpretation of this spread would be a long post indeed! The Sibyl of Swords crowns the triangle and speaks to the querent's underlying theme of storytelling in all that they do as well as a maturity to their craft . The Two of Wands both represents the querent's ability to help others find hope and possibility through telling their stories and re-membering (literally, putting back together) who they are as well the possibilities ahead of the querent in regards to turning their passion into a career. The inverted Ten of Wands recognizes the querent's overwhelm at having so many interests, which has left them feeling stuck and burdened, but since it is inverted the energy is diluted and there is a recognition that the querent is focusing their creative fire (as represented by the wands) as opposed to being completely overrun by it. The Ten of Wands is a reminder for the querent to continue to understand their own story and to own it as part of their work of discovering the path ahead of them.
The next three cards make up the triangle of chrysalis which gives specific insight to help the querent begin to transform their passion into a career. The three cards of the triangle of chrysalis are the Seven of Pentacles, the Five of Pentacles, and the Hanged Man which overlay the last three cards of the triangle of self. First, we look at the conversations happening between the Sibyl of Swords and the Seven of Pentacles (it's time to actually harvest what you've grown with all of the hard work you've already put in - you're not starting from ground zero even if it feels like it at the moment), the Two of Wands and the Five of Pentacles (it is difficult to help others find possibility and hope if the querent has a limited vision of possibilities about their own success and feel that they are in a permanent state of scarcity), and the Ten of Wands and the Hanged Man (the Hanged Man recommends that the querent transforms the feeling of stagnant stuckness to focused stillness in order to understand that they have all the tools they need for the task ahead even though it requires them to sacrifice self-limiting beliefs and practices).
Once the initial conversations have been listened to, move the cards clockwise the next position. So the Hanged Man sits with the Sibyl of Swords, the Seven of Pentacles states talking with the Two of Wands, and the Five of Pentacles strikes up a conversation with the Ten of Wands. Further insights can be gleaned now with the same cards in different positions. The Five of Pentacles, for example, reveals that part of the overwhelm experienced through the Ten of Wands is trying to figure out what passion will be most profitable which feels limiting and confusing to the querent. The cards are moved one final time to complete the circuit and have their third conversation, and then they are moved back to their original position before the final three cards of the last triangle is cast.
The third triangle is one of action, recommending next steps for the querent to take on to create a sustainable career from their storytelling passion. The three cards pulled were the Seer (or Page) of Pentacles, the Three of Wands, and the Six of Wands. The Seer of Pentacles, especially in this deck, has a powerful air energy moving through it (see the creatures flying out of the tree above the head of the sitting person) and speaks to the Sibyl of Swords' ability to help guide folks through their reflective journey to finding their own stories and becoming grounded in their truth. The Seer of Pentacles serves as an affirmation that the path of the storyteller will not only be a prosperous and sustainable one for the querent (since Pentacles are a suit of security, abundance, and long-term planning), but the card also illustrates the type of work environment that the querent can create in order to be successful. The Seer of Pentacles is also speaking with the Seven of Pentacles and, in fact, represents the harvest illustrated in the Seven of Pentacles. The Three of Wands is a great continuation of the conversation started by the Two of Wands and continued with the Five of Pentacles - it shows what the cultivation of hope and the exploration of the querent's money and success story can do when it comes to expanding their prospects. The Six of Wands shows the transformation of the figure in the Ten of Wands into the Hanged Man and finally returning home again to community that wants and needs their skills and insights. The Six of Wands reminds the querent that they have a vast support network that they need to tap into when it comes to promoting themselves and developing their business. Again, as with the triangle of chrysalis, these last three cards move around the spread conversing with new cards, gleaning more insight into steps to take for the path ahead. You can move the cards in the triangle of chrysalis again, too, if you like. Imagine the conversation that could be had between the Sibyl of Swords, the Five of Pentacles, and the Six of Wands about clearing out a scarcity complex as part of the work of bringing together community.
What I like about the moving parts of the Triangulation Spread is the fact that it reflects the complexity of the shifting parts of our lives. Moving the cards around can be helpful when a querent feels stuck in one place and has no clue how they're supposed to get to a hopeful card that has shown up later in the spread. The act of physically moving these cards together (which is a play on traditional spellwork in which components of the spell are moved closer and closer together to attract a certain outcome) can be such a simple act but still provide a surprising amount of revelation. As you can imagine, there are many ways to ask questions and shift cards within the context of a Triangulation Spread - I hope you have fun experimenting and share your experiences in the comments below or by using the hashtag #TriangulationSpread in your various feeds (I'm on instagram most often if you're looking to chat). Need more tarot in your life? Come this way!
Have fun triangulating!
All cards shown in this post are from the World Spirit Tarot.