Column: Reading the Tarot with the World Tree

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Disponible en español.

There’s a topic that I have seen a lot in books, videos, articles, and publications on social networks regarding the different planes or worlds, in which these are connected by the “world tree.” As we approach Samhain, the day when the veil between the worlds is thinner, particularly for the departed, and which is considered the Pagan New Year, I decided to do a simple tarot reading inspired by this idea.

The author’s tree of worlds tarot reading [Alan D.D.]

One Tree, Three Worlds

First of all, what is this figure about? The idea has been around for a long time in the world of Paganism and Witchcraft, and I have seen the name in both singular and plural, but mainly plural, at least in Spanish. Mat Auryn gives a good definition and explanation of it in his book Psychic Witch, but in a few words, it is a figure that connects the three worlds: the underworld, where the ancestors live (roots), the middle world, where the living live (trunk), and the upper world, where the ascended spirits, divinities and teachers live (branches).

Each world is associated with an animal spirit, with the serpent corresponding to the underworld, and the eagle for the upper world. Regarding the middle world, the spider has been proposed, and that seems to me a good choice for being the weaver, someone who can create tunnels and paths between two or more points, as explained by Auryn.

This element is present in many mythologies around the world with different variations, and the clearest examples I can give would be Yggdrasil in Norse mythology, the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the Bible, the tree of life in the Quran, and a figure with the same name in the Kabbalah. There are also, however, the Iranian Gaokerena, the Hungarian Égig érő fa, and others in various Mesoamerican myths, where the tree in question is usually related to the four cardinal points.

Honestly, I find it a fascinating idea, and one that works in my way of understanding the universe – and it makes me think about the similarities between so many cultures so different from each other. Something must be true in this, and I think it is a subject that many times challenges our preconceived ideas, the nature of the human being and the human soul, or even souls.

The Triad of Worlds

One of the most versatile tarot readings I have ever seen, and also one of the simplest, is the triad, where three cards are placed from left to right. Usually they represent the past, present and future, so it fulfills a rather predictive or preventive function, but this means that there is no more information about it. It is a diagnostic reading, not an action reading.

I have used tarot for several years, studied when the opportunity presented itself, and reading as many a book or watching as many a video about it as possible. However, this is a never ending road. For anyone who thinks it’s just a matter of memorizing basic meanings, I have bad news – but this is a simple reading that anyone can use.

Considering the symbolism of the tree of the worlds, I feel that an alternative can be made based on this figure. The general idea is to have a direction to go, to know what is most convenient and what deserves our time and dedication the most. I put the reading to the test and was quite satisfied.

To do it, I waited for the night to be at peace, have free time, and I sat at my altar where I have my tools. I shuffled the deck I use the most before drawing each card, asking a different question for each one:

  • Card 1 (Underworld – Ancestors): What should I remember and honor?
  • Card 2 (Middle World – Living): What should I maintain and strengthen?
  • Card 3 (Upper World – Masters): What should I dream with and work on?

I interpreted the cards at the time, and the meanings matched what seemed to be the best answer. The same happened at the next day, when I got a deeper in their messages. Some confirmed my suspicions about some things, while others surprised me more, but it was just what I needed to clarify the many ideas I had in my head.

Tips for use

A deck of tarot cards [Pixabay]

Obviously, since this is tarot, the reading can change as much as the person wants to change it. I read a long time ago that we must always put our touch on what we learn or see how we can enrich the practice if we want to. Although sometimes it doesn’t work or I prefer to stick with the method I learned, I always put everything I learn to the test.

In the case of this reading, each person is free to alter it as they see fit, make it longer if necessary, replacing each card with a line of three, five, seven or more cards, add more elements, or devise a protocol with which they feel most comfortable. They could even use oracle cards, English, Spanish, Lenormand decks, or any other. I have always thought that the more personal and individual our practice is, the better the results, because that way there is a significant connection.

If it changes again later, that’s fine too. Nothing is static in life, and it would honestly seem strange to me if a person uses the same methods, over and over again, or at least doesn’t look for new ones, after several years. Being simple, short and direct seems more practical to me, but changing is part of constant growth.

References

  • Annus, A. and Sarv, M., 2015. The Ball Game Motif in the Gilgamesh Tradition and International Folklore. In: R. Rollinger and E. Van Dongen, ed., Mesopotamia in the Ancient World: Impact, Continuities, Parallels. Proceedings of the Seventh Symposium of the Melammu Project Held in Obergurgl, Austria, November 4-8, 2013. Ugarit Verlag, pp.285 – 296.
  • Auryn, M., 2020. Psychic Witch: A Metaphysical Guide To Meditation, Magick & Manifestation. 1st ed. Woodbury: Llewellyn Publications.
  • Miller, M. and Taube, K., 1997. The Gods And Symbols Of Ancient Mexico And The Maya: An Illustrated Dictionary Of Mesoamerican Religion. London: Thames and Hudson.

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