This is an excerpt from The Burning Serpent Oracle by Rachel Pollack
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We do not need to build a reading around an issue card, even when that card is obvious. It can be interesting to see if such a card shows up in a short reading. Here is an actual reading done for a woman trying to decide between two houses. Both were possible, and she and her husband had made offers on both, to keep them in play, but now they had to decide. This reading, as are any des- cribed in this book, is shone with the explicit permission of the client.
Usually, with either/or choices we would do a few cards for each and compare them. This time I decided to see if a single line would give us direction. As she mixed the deck I wondered, would the House On the Hill come up? Might it take the center spot, as the Issue card? Instead, it turned up as the final card, a happy re- sult, and similar to the made-up reading above. The center card, in fact, revealed the true issue, which was where her heart was.
As with the imaginary clients above, take a moment to see how you would interpret these cards. The reading begins with problems. The Mountain indicates ob- stacles, difficulties in the whole process that cannot be dodged or avoided. The Anchor next to it indicates that the problems will continue for a while, and will prove hard to resolve. The ship of this great new stage of her life is not going anywhere, at least not right away. This is not surprising. Anyone who has ever bought a house will know what a long process it can be. I realize that some people reading this might say “Wait a minute—isn’t the Anchor a positive card, a symbol of hope?” The answer, of course, is yes, but the meaning of each card in a reading depends heavily on the cards around it, and in relation to the Mountain, the Anchor quality of permanence indicates that the problems continue. What we can say, however, is that the Anchor tells her not to give up hoping for a good result.
The Anchor might suggest that things will take time to work out, but it also leads to the Heart, and after that her luck changes— Red Clover—and she gets the House at the end. The Heart is the center of the reading, and thus the core of the issue. Which house does she really want? Which one does she love? When I put these questions to her she smiled broadly, and it was clear she knew the answer.
There is a hint that in fact the obstacles are partly the result of her making the choice harder than it needs to be. The arms of the Anchor point both left and right, and thus show her a choice. “If you want your luck to change, Anchor yourself in feelings and not the obstacles.” The hand that holds the Heart comes from the right, as if to offer the Heart to the Anchor. Some people might object that good luck, the prime meaning of the Red Clover, does not come from emotions, but simply hap- pens. And yet, many people have experienced seemingly random turns of good luck when they commit themselves emotionally to something. Also, when we find it hard to choose, and try to keep open too many alternatives, we may create more problems for ourselves. What can seem like luck might be just allowing things to move ahead.
As the last card, the House On the Hill represents the happy outcome of getting the house she wants. Like all cards, card 4 carries a variety of meanings, such as the self, or good health. But it also can mean an actual house, and that is the case in this reading. As noted in the fantasy reading above, this version of the House is less grand, but warmer, than older versions. I des- cribed this to the client, and the idea of it having a mysterious fairy tale quality. She grinned and said that the house she wanted, the house of her heart, had a stone pathway very much like the one in the picture.
This reading illustrates the slogan at the beginning of this sec- tion of the book: The reading does not come true. It becomes true. The cards here do not reveal an inescapable chain of events. They show her a path to make something happen.