The Alternative Tarot Course Weekly Reading, Week 2: The Four Elements Spread

I wrote last week about the first weekly reading for the Alternative Tarot Course by Beth Maiden; after not having much time to work on the second week’s exercises during the week, I worked through most of them yesterday, including the second weekly reading, which Beth refers to as “the Four Elements spread.” The basic idea behind this spread is to look at how the four elements (earth, water, air, and fire) influence a situation. There are five cards to this spread:

  1. Your situation at this moment (center of the spread).
  2. The earth of your situation (below the first card).
  3. The water of your situation (to the left of the first card).
  4. The air of your situation (above the first card).
  5. The fire of your situation (to the right of the first card).

For this reading I used the Wildwood Tarot (Mark Ryan and John Matthews; art by Will Worthington), which is a beautiful and somewhat unconventional deck. I didn’t have a particular situation in mind when I started shuffling (there have been several situations worth exploring recently, and I was struggling to pick one); I decided to just lay out the cards and see what it was my subconscious wanted me to focus on. Here’s what I found:


  1. The Eight of Bows – Hearthfire. This lovely card depicts a community – adults at various stages in life supporting one another, creating a home and hearth and warmth and love together. They are bound by common place and purpose; they listen to one another’s stories and treat one another with kindness and respect.
  2. The Three of Bows – Fulfillment. This one was a little tricky for me to relate to earth. It always strikes me as the fulfillment of ideas – fire – and the fruition of plans – air. But I think the relation to earth is this – I have longed for community. It was why I made a brief foray back into a formal church setting. Now a do have community – a real, solid, physically present community – in our knitting friends here in Chicago. And much of our friendships centers around what we can create with our hands, which is another earthy factor.
  3. The Four of Vessels – Boredom. This is where my deck got up and slapped me upside the head. The woman depicted here has so much, and she doesn’t see it. I have been discontent lately, convinced I don’t have friends, lonely…and all unnecessarily so. I have friends, I have community. I just need to get away from my tendency to self-isolate, reach out and connect.
  4. The Ace of Bows – Spark of Life. While this card is full of fire, I am seeing it as well-planned fire – there is thoughtfulness and air here. I need to make plans, but rather than looking at this as an intimidating task, I should be excited by the idea of connecting with people I like and care about. There is so much to learn from all of these friends that I have!
  5. 21 – The World Tree. There is such growth and safety here. Fire is about beginnings, and I feel like this is maybe an indication that it is time to make these friendships (which are all with people I met through my partner) my own. We have such a strong foundation, and a common passion, and we will all continue to grow in support of one another, to learn from each other, and to spur each other on to create new and beautiful things.

On the Bright Side…

Yesterday, I wrote about struggling with an ending, a letting go that needs to happen.

This morning, despite the fact that I’d already spent some time on my daily single-card meditation, I felt compelled to pull out my Wild Unknown deck and ask for a word of encouragement. I shuffled, and laid out three cards, and as I looked down, I was reminded that, really, the bright side of endings is that it frees up new energy for beginnings.

ace of wands, the fool, and the sun

ace of wands, the fool, and the sun from the wild unknown tarot, © kim krans

I asked for encouragement, and encouragement I received.

The Ace of Wands from this deck is one of my favorite cards; I like it so much I recently got it tattooed on my forearm as part of a tarot triptych (alongside The Hermit and the Nine of Pentacles). It speaks to me of the unstoppable urge to create, of passion and energy and the desire to make beautiful new things come into the world. It speaks to the part of me that is a writer, and a knitter, and a musician, the part that can’t resist doodling or taking photos or dreaming up stories.

The Fool is a card that I only just realized this morning has been following me quietly around all week, too (see yesterday’s blog post for the other card that’s been haunting me). It whispers to my wanderlust, drawing me on to new adventures (even if they’re mostly taking place internally). The Fool steps off from the safety of their known environment and trusts the Universe to catch them if they stumble over the first few steps. There’s a trust there, and an openness, and a wonderful sense of limitless possibility in new beginnings.

The Sun is such a lovely card to top off this simple spread. It echoes the sentiments of energy and bright prospects, giving light and life to a world that’s been a little too given to gloomy weather lately. It’s all vitality and enlightenment and joy, and that’s exactly what I needed today.

I’m still struggling to let go, but I am feeling more confident as I realize that there is so much out there that I want to accomplish, and that I can only accomplish anything if I move forward. I’m reminded that life is what happens when you’re waiting for it to begin, that change is an inevitable part of our lives, and that there is great joy and peace to be had in letting yourself get swept up by it.