For my last exercise with the Da Vinci Enigma Tarot, I decided to do the “Destiny Spread” described in the companion book, which has been created especially for this deck (and only works with it due to the requirement of the back patterns).
Here’s (roughly) how it works: Shuffle and pick 6-10 cards unseen from the deck and place them face-down on the reading surface. Then try and connect the patterns on the card backs (they are different on almost each card) to make subgroups of cards (rotating cards is allowed but the edges must line up). If you’re able to match up two halves of one of the polyhedra, you get an additional insight about the elemental energy at work here. After that, turn over the cards and read them, paying attention to the connections you made – or weren’t able to make. If you have solo (“disconnected”) cards, you can draw additional “bridge” cards to add them to a group.
I’m still concerned with a change I want to make in my work life. In fact, I’m seriously contemplating taking some time out from any job at all, some kind of sabbatical if you will. I only just realized a few days ago that I never actually did that when I finished university. Instead, I just started working more hours in what used to be my job as a student, got promoted shortly after, and eventually ended up where I’m now, without ever having taken a break. So the reading is supposed to give me more insight into this idea.
I pulled eight cards from random positions of the shuffled deck. I can’t match up any of the polyhedra, but I can make a group of six and one groups of two cards from the circular pattern. However, I’m having a hard time deciding how to arrange these two groups in relation to each other… Alright, I’ve settled on a pattern that looks like this:
Wow, five out of eight are reversed! Let me just list the card names because I have a feeling this reading will move any way it likes after that:
1. Knight of Air
2. Enigma (High Priestess) rx
3. Knight of Water rx
4. Passover (Hanged Man) rx
5. Five of Air (Contention) rx
6. Ace of Water (Water) rx
7. Five of Water (Unwinding)
8. Nine of Earth (Roots)
The Knight of Air and Enigma seem to strain away from each other. The Knight of Air is the voice of reason that tells me I need to watch out for my “career,” that this sabbatical idea is crazy – and his horse also seems to balk at it. And the poor guy seems to be losing out already, the way he is hardly visible at all here. He’s also the only card with a blueish tinge to it, whereas the others are brownish or grayish.
Enigma, however, who looks like a sketch for the Mona Lisa, isn’t faint at all even if she holds a nearly transparent shoot of a plant in her hand (suggesting growth is happening already, even if it’s not quite visible yet) and seems to be perfectly calm about the idea of going deeper within instead of moving on/up in the outside world. This is a good portrayal of the two voices on my head at the moment.
These two are mirrored by their counterparts in the big group of six. The Knight of Water has a horse that’s nearly invisible (and a dildo-like something coming out of his saddle). His clothes are very detailed, which might hint at my idea of doing lot more sewing during a sabbatical (and maybe even turn this into one of several sources(! -> water!) of income). His lance is fending off the Knight of Air from moving anywhere near the second group of cards.
Below him I find Passover, a blurry face with cast-down eyes in the same brownish shade as Enigma, turning towards her slightly. Boundaries are dissolving here, some kind of meditation or journeying is happening, and the focus is strictly on the within/otherworld. I don’t have enough knowledge of the Bible to be able to correctly place the theme of Passover (and my internet connection isn’t working right now, effectively keeping me from looking it up). All I know is that it’s something important having to do with the passing of Jesus.* This could possibly point to my volunteer hospice work which I’d definitely continue through any sabbatical.
* Now that the internet connection works again, let me correct my mistakes here: Passover is actually a Jewish holiday, not a Christian one as I thought. It is not connected to the dying of Jesus but to the Israelites being freed from slavery in Egpyt (Wikipedia offers a lot more detail on the holiday). I won’t change my interpretation of the card, though, since I believe that whatever comes up at the time of the reading counts, even if it’s not factually correct.
Next come two Fives next to each other. The Five of Air shows two roughly sketched people fighting. One is on his back, his arm holding a now-useless shield, his feet and legs fighting off the other one who is leaning in, ready to strike with his fist. In comparison, the Five of Water is a detailed drawing of a mechanical contraption consisting of various cog wheels. Where the former is chaotic, the latter is orderly, so I take this to mean that both aspects would be present during a career break, mirroring each other and ultimately creating their own balance.
Finally, there’s the card pair at the bottom. The Ace of Water is about the patterns, waves, and swirls created by flowing water. This is contrasted by some rectangular shapes that serves as blockages/disruptions to the flow, but that are also responsible for making these beautiful swirls in the first place. I take that to mean that the flow of a sabbatical won’t be smooth at all times, but that some interruptions of a straight path may be necessary and beautiful to realize the whole potential of what’s there. The Nine of Earth, subtitled “Roots,” seems a perfect card to end this spread with. Two small trees seem to be holding hands, uh, roots in the ground while growing in all directions. That tells me I will learn more about my roots (possibly about my ancestors, too?), and that I’ll also find a place (literally or figuratively) for me to feel rooted in, grounded in, and supported by. Connections will be made, especially in areas that aren’t immediately visible (spiritual ones?). Finally, water feeds the trees, and the trees transform water (and sunlight) into sugar and oxygen – sweetness, energy, and air to breathe. I would say I’m definitely on the right track here!
Now I’ll go and have a look into the companion book. After all, the directions for this spread also ask me to consider the questions given for each card, and to read the upright or reversed interpretations.
1. What must you champion or defend? — I feel as if I need to defend my professional competence, my “sanity,” my rational abilities because I expect many people around me (especially my current coworkers and bosses) to doubt all of those if I tell them about my plan (especially if I do so too early).
2. What wisdom do you read in the book of your soul? How must you apply it in this matter? — It may be a mystery why I feel so called to take this break, but it’s still the right thing to do. Who knows, it may eventually result in being the greatest thing I ever did (this being a preliminary Mona Lisa and all)!
3. How do you feel about this? — I know who I am, but I don’t know yet what will be carrying me in that new phase of my life.
4. What are the demands of your destiny? What is being asked of you? — To free myself from the “slavery” of my own assumptions about what makes a “proper career path.” To clean and purge, to do things differently, and to take this seriously (can you tell I’ve read up on Passover by now?)
5. Why, and how, are you trying to be right? — To prove to myself and the “voices” in my head (of my parents, “society,” etc.) that there is a different way. That fighting my urge to follow my own path into submission is not the way to go. I feel some pressure to “succeed” in my sabbatical, too, which is a bit difficult since I haven’t clarified my goals for that, yet. Also, because I feel attacked and in a defensive position in relation to pressures I perceive from “mainstream,” “normal” people. Maybe this doesn’t have to be such a fight, though…
6. What is irrigated or blocked? — Right now: my freedom to choose how I organize my work is blocked in some ways that are important to me. My freedom and desire to follow the flow and see where that takes me.
7. What old patterns cause present loss? What new designs clear the way? — My perfectionism combined with unclear priorities (that is, I don’t make enough conscious choices about where to be perfectionistic because it serves a purpose and where to allow for a lower standard because that’s all it needs) certainly causes an unnecessary loss of energy. Becoming more aware of how my own “system” works could probably help here.
8. Where is your rightful place? What is the necessary attitude to take here? — My rightful place is in connection with Nature (which also translates to “in harmony with the Universe” to me), rooted in the Earth, connected to others like me. Maybe in a suitable teacher/student relationship, since the trees are different sizes. The attitude required for this is “at peace” and “in touch.” And “growing,” meaning there will be a time after the sabbatical.
Here are some further thoughts after reading the respective paragraphs in the companion book.
The Mona Lisa is also known as “La Gioconda,” which means “The Playful One.” This reminds me that some of my greatest ideas have come from playing around, joking, or otherwise breaking the boundaries of “serious contemplation.” It’s the same with the idea for this sabbatical which suddenly popped into my head as I was talking to a friend.
The outfit of the Knight of Water is a sketch for a festival costume.
Caitlín Matthews says about the Five of Water: “What you experience as personal melancholy may be a collective ancestral suffering that needs attention.” That is certainly an interesting perspective to consider. Looking at how my ancestors dealt with their work life may indeed offer some valuable insights. If I start journeying shamanically again, this could be an issue to explore in more depth that way.
All in all, I found that I couldn’t relate to the reversed meanings given for the cards. They just didn’t match how I felt about the images when I read them. I will therefore use the upright/reversed positions merely as a way to connect the cards in certain ways, and allow each card the full range of meanings, depending on how it makes sense in the spread as a whole. It makes sense to me that the long column of cards would be reversed, however, in the sense that my path into a sabbatical is anything but clear at the moment, so the energies here may well be blocked. However, I cannot bring myself to see this as a huge warning not to follow this path. Part of this may be wishful thinking, but I truly don’t believe I will move myself towards a terrible catastrophe if I go through with an extended time-out. Especially not since the last card is such a positive one, and in an upright position, too.
To conclude this rather extended reading, I drew a final card to represent what’s most important for me to remember in getting from here to there: Eight of Fire (Trajectory). A row of catapults is set upon the edge of a building. A man wields a huge hammer, ready to hit the catapults and let the stones placed on their ends fly over the wall separating him from the outside. It’s almost as if the wall represents the separation between my two card groups here! So apparently I need to apply my force to the right spots to get this idea flying into the realization of my goals. The book asks, Where are you aiming your intentions? and I’ll let the second group of cards answer that. It also tells me to take care of my resources and not to move too swiftly, not to put too many irons into my fire at once. A good reminder for people like me who are drawn to following a multitude of interests…
And did I mention I adore the fact the images aren’t of a uniform size and that some even seem to have ripped off edges, like the Eight of Fire here? Yes, this one is a keeper – it definitely grew on me while I was using it. It seems more of a contemplative deck, though, than one for quickie readings.