30 Days of Tarot — Day 12: Have you ever created your own spread? If so, how effective is it? (Feel free to show the spread.)
I have created many, but most of those were one-shot affairs tailored to the Querent sitting across from me and their particular question. (I call it a game, but it is a serious game.) Of the few that I have inflicted upon the public, my favorite is “Boxed In”.
“Boxed In” Tarot Spread
There are two versions of “Boxed In”. The first assumes you are already boxed in and are attempting to divine how to break out. The second assumes you are in the process of being boxed in right now, and are only partially constricted.
Already Boxed In version
Deal the cards in this order: Q-1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9
- Q = The Querent. How has being boxed in affect the Querent?
- 1 = The Box Bottom. What is the foundation/underlying issue(s) that trapped the Querent?
- 2 = The Wall of Fire. What is subverting the will of the Querent and preventing the Querent from proceeding?
- 3 = The Wall of Water. What is dulling the Querent’s instincts?
- 4 = The Wall of Air. What is confusing and subverting the Querent’s reasoning?
- 5 = The Wall of Earth. What is tying up the Querent’s resources?
- 6 = The Box Top. What is solidifying the box and sealing the Querent in place?
- 7 = The location of the Escape Hatch. (This card is a location pointer.)
- 8 = The nature of the Escape Hatch and what is preventing its opening.
- 9 = The nature of the Key that opens the Escape Hatch. What does the Querent need to do to escape the box?
How to interpret the positions:
[Q] Feeling boxed in? Hemmed on all sides and unable to proceed? No matter what you do, there is no advancement? YOU’RE STUCK! Probably been mired for so long, you don’t recognize what effect being boxed in has had on you. That’s okay. Flip this card over. It will tell you what has been most affected by being boxed in so when you escape this will be the first area in your life that you will see a change in.
 So you were going about your day, and /something happened/. Something brought your progress to a screeching halt. Maybe you thought this would only be a five-minute fix. Maybe you were prepared for it to take a while. But as things progressed, you didn’t, and now you’re stuck. This card tells you what stopped you.
 You wanted to go over the hill, around the corner, up the stairs, down the hall, away from here. Something collided with your will and drive to do so, and convinced you there is no there, there. This card reveals what made your will blink.
 You bounced off the Wall of Fire. This is unexpected. You couldn’t force your way through, so you tried to flow your way through. Your experiences have taught you a thing, and you want to let instinct lead you out. But your gut is only rumbling to no avail. This card reveals what dulled your instinct and allowed your emotions to deaden your feet.
 That was an unpleasant wash. You want to just sit down and think up a path out of this mess. You succeed at sitting down, but all your thoughts run in tight little circles. This card reveals what is turning your reasoning against you by subverting your logic.
 All this thinking hurts. You don’t have to know how combustible engines work to drive a car. You turn the key over, but the battery has gone dead! Your resources (including networking connections) are barely able to keep you upright, much less move forward in a cohesive fashion. This card reveals what is hogging your gear and hampering your ability to use it.
 Starting to feel like quicksand up in here. Instead of struggling continuously, how about just holding still and allowing yourself to float up to safety. Nope. Denied. Something has sealed you into the box. This card reveals the what (or who) has capped your containment cell and is keeping the four walls together. While the other 5 sides of the Box are formidable, they are often happenstance that has been seized upon by what is revealed in this card. Could be just a series of unfortunate events that snowballed into a cell. Could also be the machinations of an opponent.
 Nothing is fool-proof, nothing is permanent. There’s always a way out. This card reveals where the Escape Hatch is, and which Wall the Querent is going to have to face to get to it. If the card is in the suite of Wands, the Querent will have to confront the forces of card . If Cups, then . If Swords, then . If Pents, then . If the card is a Major Arcana numbered from 0 (Fool) to X (Hanged Man), then the confrontation is with the foundation of the box, . If the card is numbered from XI (Justice) to XXI (World), then the confrontation is with the cap of the box, . (Please adjust the labeling to comply with the deck of your choice, and switch Wands/Swords if your deck aligns Wands with Air and Swords with Fire.)
 You found the Escape Hatch! Great! Now you have to lay hands on it and manipulate it. This card reveals what kind of struggle the Querent should expect while wrestling with the Escape Hatch.
 It’s going to take more than just expletives to open the Escape Hatch. This card reveals what the Querent should do to open the hatch. A crowbar is an acceptable key if it gets the job done.
Being Boxed In version
(For the sake of brevity, only the changes will be listed here. Unless I need to break it out into a separate post. If so, tell me.)
Deal the cards in this order: 1-2-3-Q-4-5-6-7-8-9
[Q] = What is at risk of being destroyed/subverted if the Querent is not able to escape being boxed in. Keep in mind that captivity of any sort has a domino affect. Remain locked in for long enough and every aspect of the Querent’s life will be affected. This card merely points at what is at greatest risk of change.
 = You haven’t been hemmed in completely yet. You still have all your mental faculties about you. But if you are not wary, what is represented by this card will be the weapon used against you to try and send your logic in self-destructive circular reasoning.
 = Your will and your instincts may be dulled, but you still have your tools, your material resources, and the assistance of others at hand. This card reveals which of those tools will be used against you to try and hem you in.
 = The mastermind (if any) behind your circumstances. It could just be a bad string of luck that you have no option but to tolerate for now. It could be the work of a rival trying to keep you in a side pocket. The box is not sealed, however, and this card reveals where the capstone will be coming from. Forewarned is forearmed, however. You can use this to your advantage to dodge the trap or even turn it against the sender.
If the Escape Hatch lies in cards , , or , instead of trying to prevent the box from being sealed, you have the option of making a run for it now. Judge if the struggle represented by the Escape Hatch and Key cards are better than confronting the other three sides of the box. Sometimes it’s better to stay and fight out the battle. Sometimes discretion is the better form of valour.