Jack in the box


Spreads are a great way to organize information. Depending on the spread, we have positions for the querent, hir history, things that he/she should be aware of, advice, unconscious feelings/motives; how the world around hir reacts, etc., etc., etc. And, if we can’t quickly find what we are searching for, well then… we just change the spread and start again.

In fact, spreads can be so useful and so practical, they might conform our readings into a pure “Where’s Wally” kind of game, instead of sparking our imagination and our ability to read cards. That’s why one of the things I spend most of my time with is in devising new ways to make a reading interesting or come up with a new angle to boost reaction from the part of the querent.

Here, I wanted to tell you about a new toy I’ve found that can spice up your reading, by giving it a new approach. I call it the “Jack-in-the-box” card. Its mechanism is really simple. You do your spread and make the reading you feel appropriate. Any type of spread will do, so just use the one you feel most comfortable with. Then, you ask the querent to take a card from any part of the deck. This is your Jack-in-the-box card, and it’s supposed to give you a different perspective on your reading. Something that may not confirm to your reading, but should show you a different approach on the matter, and hopefully, spark a positive reaction in your querent’s life.

Here’s a few examples so you can see how this could work:

In my first example, the client wants to know what the future holds for her project, something she is very personally invested in and doesn’t seem to be thriving:


So, according to the cards, this is obviously a project of love (4 Cups). The client feels lost, disoriented (Prince of Disks), probably because she was too optimistic about things. It’s not that it backfired, but there seems to be a period of inertia (Queen of Disks). As if she is thinking what to do next. Looking at the outcome (4 of Disks), there seems to be some improvement. The cabalastic synthesis suggests this is a period which she has to use to correct everything that’s wrong. Nothing here says this is ending, so we can assume the 4 of Disks is about stability, making things stronger and become more prepared to what is to come. Also of note, the horizontal line has two court cards, both Disks, whilst the vertical line has two 4s (Disks and Cups). We can say this is about having a good foundation, so that her project can thrive out there in the world. The majority of Disks seems to imply that money is an issue and given her lack of direction, the quicker she can resolve things, the better.

The “Jack-in-the-Box” card turned out to be The Fool:


Which seems to suggest that a few adjustments simply won’t do. The project needs to be rethought from the bottom up. She probably needs to be more creative and not just play safe. But this Fool might mean more than this. He has a bag of coins with him, so the issue is not a financial one. Rather it seems that she has lost her faith. She doesn’t believe anymore in the project. In a way, she let herself be defeated by the world. This Fool is then a call to arms. For her to let go of all those bad experiences and defend her dreams, her goals, her vision. We can then see the Prince of Coins as someone with enough confidence to go out into the world armed with just his convictions; the Queen of Disks, as everything that keeps her from acting; the 4 of Disks as the fortress of her convictions, from which she can take the world.

In the second example, a woman wanted to know if she should maintain her relationship with her boyfriend or just be done with it. It was previously known that he had a very large record of cheating before this relashionship, something she still can’t deal with, being very jealous, even though they share a very deep feeling for one another and there’s never been any cheating on his part ever since they started.
The chosen spread, Banzhaf’s Two paths has in the “yes path” The Sun, Queen of Disks and The Star. In the “no path”, we find The Hermit, Art, and 6 of Cups. In the signifier, the Queen of Swords, meaning her need to make a permanent decision.


This is a cute spread because you get to see what would happen for each hypothesis. There’s an extra bonus here, as we have some special cards (The Lovers, The Wheel, The Star, Judgement and The World) which point out the way to go.
In this case, we have two major Arcanas in each path, with a Court card in the Yes path and a Cup card (6 of Cups) in the other one. Comparing both paths shows us that in the “No path”, there’s a sense of relieve after the break and the opportunity to once more enjoy life. On the contrary, the “yes path” seems to indicate that even though things will get better, sooner or latter she will be in the same position, looking for some tranquility. It would seem that the “no option” would be the better one. But The Star, being a special card in this spread, suggests that she should maintain her relashionship.
For her Jack-in-the-Box card, she drew the 6 of Swords. Six swords placed right at the center of a cross. Or maybe, if we see the cross as an approximation of the human shape, on its heart.


So, piece of mind versus love… And a card ushering us into reason. This would mean, at first glance that all she has to do is to control her jealousy and everything would be ok. And that’s right. By balancing her emotions with her reason, she might be able to have a healthier relationship. However, visually speaking, there’s also a sense of pain (6 swords aiming at the center of the cross, at its heart), on which there just happens to be a red rose. Now, we can’t tell if the swords actually pierce either the rose or the cross (or even both), but this no longer seems like the typical “should I stay or should I go” question, but more should she stay in this relationship and use it to deal with her insecurities and everything she finds painful in order to heal herself, or should she go on her way and find something more pleasant? Again, the “no path” seems tempting: she runs away (the hermit), eventually heals herself (art) and finds pleasure. And what about the “yes path”? There’s the Sun, with a couple playing under the sun, followed by the Queen of Disks (a woman calmly contemplating the landscape in front of her; there’s a sense of self assurance here and protection, with the vegetation that’s covering her from the outside and the goat besides her standing guard. As if she doesn’t need to face things on her own) and The Star: the washing out of her insecurities; cleansing herself from what ails her. So the answer would be yes, she should stay in the relashionship, because she’s in a situation where she doesn’t have to deal with her issues all alone, having the support of her partner.

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