Divine Proportion Spread, or: the difficulty with following instructions


Following my plan from Monday, I’m now trying out a spread from the companion book to the Da Vinci Enigma Tarot. It is called the “Divine Proportion Spread” and is inspired by the Golden Ratio (a mathematical proportion that is found in many natural structures such as nautilus shells, growth patterns of plants, the DNA, and the solar system).

You may have seen this drawing before. It shows a series of rectangles that illustrate the Golden Ratio. Caitlín Matthews, the author of the companion book, has assigned a spread position to the first seven squares/quarter circles. To use this spread, one shuffles the cards, then counts from the top and take cards number 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, and 21 (the Fibonacci sequence numbers, where each number is the sum of the previous two). The cards are laid out in a spiral shape, based on the diagram.

I’m asking about a still-vague plan I have for a major change in my job situation, with an emphasis on the transition period. I’m starting the spiral in the middle so it evolves outwards.

Added 13 January 2012: I originally wrote this post yesterday. After I finished the reading, I suddenly realized that I didn’t count out the cards but just took them from the top of the shuffled and cut deck as I usually do. Of course I couldn’t resist picking out the ones I “should” have drawn. I briefly debated if the reading I had just done was even “valid” and today decided to add the “right” cards to the reading as extra insights. The three additional images are given below but not included in the overview photo.

1. Conception – What is the kernel of your plan?Three of Water (Conjunction)

This drawing reminds me of the trajectories of light, and the shadows the produce – stuff I learned about in physics lessons long ago. There seem to be two sources of light, and two round objects the light shines onto. Interestingly, this creates three areas of the darkest shadow, one of them completely detached from the two objects.

To me, the emphasis clearly seems to be on the shadows, which fits with my thorough dissatisfaction with my current job. That definitely is a source of motivation for me to develop an alternative – the current job is a bad example in many respects, which of course teaches me what doesn’t work for me.

I also feel validated in my idea by the fact that there are two sources of light, not just one. You see, I would like to have more than one part-time job instead of a single full-time one, and two seems a good number to start with. The two sources of light make the whole system more complex and a bit challenging to keep track of, but they also make it a lot more interesting, and cover a much larger area than a single light-source would. I believe this is directly transferrable to jobs for me.

At the same time, I feel there’s a motion outwards, as if the two bigger shapes are propelled away from the shadows and complications. This mirrors my strong desire to break free from my current situation where I feel bound by too many rules and conventions that make no sense to me.

And then there’s the card’s title that suggests things coming together. That’s one of my biggest hopes: to finally have these parts of my life come together into a whole that makes sense to me, that is well-rounded, complex, interesting, challenging, and ultimately balanced.

2. Gathering – What must you gather for it?Temperance

I can’t quite decide what’s happening here. A man crouches on an edge of some rocks, with a spade and a hoe next to him on the ground. He seems to be hitting an animal with a branch to chase it away from the ground a bit lower than his perch.

With an emphasis on gathering, I’d say I need to make sure I have the right tools for the job. But what are they? The book helps me out here and explains the following:

This allegorical depiction of the Ermine [a stoat in its white winter coat], who would risk death rather than stain her white coat, depicts the Renaissance image of Temperance and self-respect.

Self-respect is indeed what I need to gather here. I need to believe that my deep-down sense of what’s right for me is trustworthy, and that my ideas/plans may be unusual and ambitious but they are also achievable. I need to be true to myself, no matter what anyone else says.

3. Growth – What enables the plan to grow?Lord (King) of Air

This is a frontal portrait of a man’s face. He is staring into space as if he’s listening to an inner voice. The most detailed part of the drawing is his mouth and beard.

To me, that says I need to listen to my own inner voice and that I need to find or gather or remember the experience that will make my plan grow. It will be a slow process, but then again, hair doesn’t grow that slow after all.

The book informs me that this is a drawing of the illegitimate son of Pope Alexander VI, Cesare Borgia (brother of Lucrezia Borgia), who was “a brilliant soldier and a ruthless manipulator whose motto was ‘Aut Caesar, aut nihil’ – ‘Caesar or nothing.'” Phrased more positively, this guy was about single-mindedness, focus, and having a good strategy – all qualities I see as immensely helpful for my plan.

5. Rest – What do you gain as it rests?Two of Earth (Polarity)

This is a drawing of some kind of contraption that uses a handle to operate a cogwheel to move machinery. I assume the wheel would move back and forth between the two endpoints, thus explaining the title “polarity” of this card.

I understand this as a reminder that machinery needs to be turned off every once in a while, to reboot and start anew with fresh energy (I won’t claim this is true for every machine on this planet, but surely they all need some maintenance every now and then). Rest and action both are important, they need to be balanced right.

The companion book also mentions ambivalance and a lack of clear priorities, both of which have plagued me many times (not just in terms of this plan). So I take this to mean that I do need my breaks to assess the situation, but not to the point of overly questioning my choices and becoming paralyzed by doubt.

The card also suggests a moderate speed to the endeavour, which seems like good advice to me.

+ Pain & Pleasure (The Devil) [image below]

I interpret “resting” as “procrastination” with this card, and all I need to know is already in its title. I will gain pain because I will give myself a hard time for not moving any faster and for taking so many, so long breaks. I will also gain pleasure because there won’t be so much pressure on me to get things done that I stop wanting to do them – after all, I don’t have a close deadline for any of this (although I did give myself a vague deadline of not wanting to have a different work life by my 40th birthday, which is in February 2013).

8. Reappraisal – What needs modification?Seven of Earth (Stamina)

A working horse is trotting towards the background of the picture. As I just learned on Wikipedia when I identified the gait (can you tell I’m not a horse person?), the trot is indeed the working speed for a horse (cantering and gallopping are far to exhausting for the horse to keep up for a long time).

So this is yet another message about the appropriate speed of this. It also asks me to calculate for some long-term effort instead of a few short sprints. Point taken.

+ Seven of Fire (Success)

This is a very reddish drawing of a frontal male nude who seems to hold on to a dead animal (a deer?) and a lever/stick. His stance is solid, but he also seems quite immobile. This emphasizes the message of the horse to move slowly, but to move and not just stand there, waiting for things to happen.

13. Finalization – What is needed to finish?Pain & Pleasure (The Devil)

Oh, the title of the card alone amuses me to no end. The image depicts a man whose torso is split into two upper halves, giving us a person with two legs, four arms, and two heads. He is holding a fire, some coins, a plant (Matthews claims it’s a scourge but I clearly see leaves, and I don’t see any handle), and a staff of reed – almost bringing the four elements together. Both coins and bits of fire are dropping to the ground, suggesting there’s more of both than he can actually hold/handle.

I take that to mean there will be a time when I’ll feel even more torn than I already do, ending one thing and starting the next at the same time. This will probably be quite an effort, but it will be so worth it.

I also see a message here about walking forward on my new path, step by little step, even though I might feel confused at times.

+ Four of Air (Repose)

This is a drawing of two hands, held in front of someone’s upper body, as if cradling oneself. They seem at rest, turned inwards, protective. This tells me that I’m not supposed to expose everything (as the man in the Seven of Fire does), but to keep my cards close to my chest and not reveal too much before the time is right.

21. Manifestation – What will you make?Imagination (The Chariot)

The title of the card suggests that I may indeed make true what I imagine.

In the image itself, someone is sitting outside near a wall, holding up a mirror to reflect the sunlight. A cat sits ready to jump, and a dragon is curled up on the floor. This brings together both ordinary and extraordinary elements, which sounds good to me.

As I learn from the companion book, this is not the whole drawing, so I looked for a copy where all animals are visible. Indeed, there are also a unicorn, a boar, a bear, and another lion-cat.

The book also offers this as one way to look at this card:

Waiting for the right way to rise under your feet only leaves you stationary at the roadside. It is possible you can hitch your plan to a rescue vehicle for a short period only, but the impetus you seek lies within you. Consult and temper your imagination, especially if it is providing you with fearful or fantastic images.

And yet another message about moving forward on one’s path!

All in all, there’s a lot of slow, but steady movement in this spread. Balance is an issue, as is staying on track. Work is required, but rest is also necessary. And in the end, there is another part of the path waiting for me. To me, that sounds hopeful and optimistic but not unrealistic – and since I focused the reading on what I need to know about the period of transition from here to there, it makes a lot of sense not to end on a “and you’ll live happily ever after” card. Of course there’s more to come!

+ Ace of Air (Air)

If I wasn’t an air sign, and if it wasn’t for the other card in this position, I might be worried that this means I will produce nothing but hot air… Instead, I take this to mean I will regain space to breathe. Which may be all that is “visible” at the moment, since my plans for what do instead of my current job are still so very up in the air. Fine with me. I can always do more readings later when my plans have gotten a bit more concrete.

Since this is a big issue for me, I don’t completely trust my own take. Therefore any additional views on these cards (both supporting and contradicting my interpretations) by you, my dear readers, are especially welcome here!


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