Sample Tarot Reading
Presidential Election 1996

The election for president of the U.S. is only four weeks away. This election is to be decided between Bill Clinton (the Democratic incumbent), Bob Dole (the Republican challenger) and Ross Perot, the independent. Tonight (10/6/96) is the night of the first debate between the two main candidates, so there is a sense that we are entering the last lap of this race. I was tempted to ask the most obvious question, "Who will win the election?" but I decided to avoid this limited, either/or question and look at a larger issue. On October 5, 1996, I did a Celtic Cross Reading to consider the following:

What does the presidential election mean to the American people, and
how will it likely unfold in the next 4-6 weeks?

Cards Chosen -

  1. Position 1 - Ace of Cups Reversed
  2. Position 2 - 2 of Pentacles
  3. Position 3 - 7 of Pentacles Reversed
  4. Position 4 - 5 of Swords
  5. Position 5 - 6 of Swords
  6. Position 6 - Queen of Cups
  7. Position 7 - King of Swords
  8. Position 8 - 10 of Pentacles
  9. Position 9 - Page of Swords Reversed
  10. Position 10 - Sun
Bold phrases are from the information page for the card, italic phrases from the position page.
The meanings of some readings hit you right away. Bam! Others require a little more digging and thought. That is the case with this reading. There are some curious surprises in it that I'm not yet sure I completely understand. Let's see what they are.

Cards 3 and 5 tell us a great deal about the present state of mind of the American people concerning this election. Card 5 suggests that collectively we are rather depressed and apathetic. We have low expectations for the future and feel unenthusiastic about both of the candidates. Mainly we're focused on just trying to get by day-to-day, keeping our heads above water. We believe that the election won't make a big difference one way or the other. Who cares?

Card 3 reinforces this idea, but also adds a new understanding. The 7 of Pentacles Reversed suggests that at a deep level we do not really want to seriously take stock of our society and do something about changing it. We may say we want a direction change and maybe we actually believe it, but unconsciously we don't really have the energy or will to do what's required. Our unrecognized motivation is to leave things the way they are. Real change is just too scary and too demanding.

Card 8 is also important here because it shows us what we want as Americans - what our expectations are for the president. The 10 of Pentacles stands for the ideal atmosphere of a prosperous, growing economy. Our culture is essentially a commerical one...we're happy and contented when the business of our lives is flourishing. We seek the security and comfort of affluence. As a people, we are also basically conservative. We may say we want change, but that's not really the case. We only want change that will bring us back to the prosperity that we feel should be ours. (It is interesting that the 10 of Pentacles also shows us the current state of the American economy. Objectively, the economic news is fairly positive...even if we don't recognize that fact.)

So, given the listlessness of our interest in the election (6 of Swords) and our unconscious resistance to change (7 of Pentacles Reversed/10 of Pentacles), our projected choice becomes fairly clear - Bill Clinton. He is represented by the King of Swords as Card 7 - what we think we should do and our approach to the problem.

The King of Swords is an interesting example of how a personal association to a card impacts the interpretation of a reading. The King of Swords represents Bill Clinton to me because of an article I read in Time Magazine while waiting in a doctor's office several months ago. In this article, Nicolas Lemann identified 3 paths to success in America: the Lifers, Mandarins and Talents with Dole, Clinton and Pat Buchanan representing these types respectively. While I was reading, I was struck by how closely the King of Pentacles, King of Swords and King of Wands correspond to these types. (Tarot ideas are never far from my mind.) I wondered how I could develop this interesting correlation and use it in my course. So, now, months later, I see the King of Swords in this reading and know that he represents Clinton. (And I get a chance to introduce this article in my course - an example of the ingenuity of the Inner Guide in meeting our needs.)

So far, we have learned where we as Americans stand and who our projected president will be. How will this play out in the next few weeks, and what does it mean? Let's look at the rest of the cards to find out. The 5 of Swords as Card 4 suggests that maybe, just maybe we have put open discord, power plays and other dirty tricks behind us. They certainly represent a quality we can let go of and maybe the candidates will GET the fact that the American people don't want negative campaigns and other nastiness.

I think what we do want is to rid ourselves of negativity as shown by the Ace of Cups in Position One. This card shows that there is the seed of a feeling in our society that we absolutely have to establish a bond with each other and reintroduce civility into public life. This is the central issue and fundamental problem we face in this election whether we know it or not. To put it in basic terms, we have to begin loving and forgiving each other. This may sound mushy, but bottom line, love is our only salvation. Unfortunately, right now this impulse is being blocked (reversed). Love in Politics - forget it. Not going to happen, but....the seed IS there. Can we take advantage of it and help it to grow. That's the question.

The Page of Swords Reversed hints that perhaps the answer is "No." As Card 9, he tells us that the bottom line is that we just don't have the resolve to face our problems squarely. Our candidates don't speak directly, act ethically or embrace the truth. And as our representatives, they remind us that we don't do these things either, or not often enough to make a difference. Pages tell us to take certain kinds of actions. We expect our leaders to act with honesty and justice, but we don't really support them when they do.

So, the prognosis would seem to be poor. We would expect more lies and little sense of connectedness to come out of this election, but amazingly, the future cards don't show this at all. The Queen of Cups as Card 6 in the Near Future is one that strikes me as completely unexpected and out-of-place. This Queen is the ultimate expression of an inner state of love, sensitivity and caring. She is the embodiment of the spirit reflected in the Ace of Cups. I see her appearance here as a unequivocal sign that this is the quality we need to embrace in our future. I can only hope too that she is a sign that her gentle spirit and reverence for life will become more and more evident in our political dialogue. Too impossible, you say? Maybe not. [More]

There is another possibility as well - that a person or group with this Queen's focus will appear and help us go in this direction as a nation. I remember when I read the Time article I chuckled to myself because I saw that there was no candidate to represent the King of Cups. It seems that wise, caring and compassionate leaders don't go into politics. Perhaps this Queen is telling us that this is a shame. Of course, it's too late to find such a candidate, but maybe the ones we have will wake up to this missing aspect of the election.

In either case (or both) I think that this Queen is somehow the key to turning us around, and if we can incorporate her loving nature into our politics and economic life the result will be glorious - the Sun! Vitality, health, greatness, success, confidence. We couldn't ask for a better outcome, and it is within our grasp if we heed the signs and take the necessary measures. Maybe the future will be pretty good after all, despite our apathy . The secret is to see the possibilities and be ready to change directions even if it's challenging. The 2 of Pentacles as Card 2 - the balancing factor - tells us that we can move forward smoothly if we are flexible and open to change. By putting hositility behind us and embracing a more positive acceptance of each other, we can restore the meaning of this election and enjoy a very positive outcome.

Description of Three Paths to Success in the US
These descriptions are taken verbatim from a Time Magazine article dated 2/26/96 b;y Nicholas Lemann. Pages 42-44. I've added the King that I feel represents each type.

Queen of Cups
October 30, 1996 - After the first debate, many commented that Dole and Clinton were surprisingly civil to each other. There was little name-calling and finger-pointing. Perhaps the Queen of Cups represented this period of good will that was to come in the near future. Now, of course, this "nice" period has been abandonned.

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