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Robert Place at Readers Studio 2010

May 6, 2010

So far I have posted articles here about two of the three featured workshop presenters at the recent Readers Studio event in New York.  Finally, here are a few comments about Robert Place‘s workshop.  The central thrust of his workshop was his “Seven Soul Centers Spread” but a necessary first step in this presentation was a discussion of his “Three-Card Spread” which is the basic building block for the Soul Centers Spread.  Although the “Seven Soul Centers Spread” is very powerful (I had the honor of getting a reading from Bob using this spread at the 2005 Readers Studio), it is the three-card spread that I want to discuss here.

The details of this spread are laid out in Robert Place’s book, The Tarot:  History, Symbolism, and Divination, on pages 273 – 284 if you want to find out more about it.  Let me just give a brief overview of the basic concept though.  If you lay out three cards (using a deck with illustrated pip cards and not using reversed cards) you get something that looks like a comic strip, which you can read as if it were a story.  You can do this based on the apparent movement of the characters and the flow of energy seen in the cards.  It’s a very powerful way to give you more than 78 possibilities in a reading, or 156 if you also use reversed cards, since there are 456,456 possible combinations of three cards.  (I haven’t done the math myself so I’m trusting Bob’s calculations here.)

The next step in this workshop was to practice using this three-card spread by doing a reading for the question: “What can I learn from this workshop about this spread?”  I drew cards from my Tarot of the Masters deck —
Seven of Swords, The Hermit, King of Pentacles

. Seven of Swords in Tarot of the Masters . The Hermit from Tarot of the Masters . King of Coins / Pentacles in Tarot of the Masters

My interpretation was this:

I should pick up what attracts me about it (like the magpie of the 7/Swords) and then consider it carefully (Hermit) and integrate it into my practice so that I can make it work well for me in my Tarot practice (King/Pentacles).

Now this is where I diverge from my discussion of this workshop.  Today I was considering a card that has been plaguing me.  Perhaps some of you know what I’m talking about – a card that keeps popping up in your readings for yourself for a while. And of course, as we all know, the hardest person to do a reading for is yourself since your hopes and fears intrude on such readings. the card that was bewildering to me was the Four of Cups.

Four of Cups from Tarot of the MastersThere is a situation for which I did a quick one card draw a few days ago and I got this card. Then yesterday I was showing my friend Amy a new spread, and in a practice read with it, this card came up (and the reading was for that same situation). Then today I did a reading to get advice about this situation and guess what card I got?  Yep.  The Four of Cups.  So at that point, I thought, “What the heck is going on here?”  I thought about a few messages that this card might be trying to drive home:

*  Stop looking at the negatives and look for the silver linings instead.
*  Don’t worry, be happy.
*  Get an attitude adjustment about this situation.

But since I’m trying to interpret this card for myself, I was suspicious that I was missing something.  so that’s when I decided to use Robert Place’s three-card spread to give me a reading on what the Four of Cups is trying to say.  An advantage of using this spread is that you can read it as a story, which can trick your conscious mind into not interfering since it’s “just” a story.  Then once you’ve done that, you can apply the message of that story to your question for the reading.  At least, that was the theory I was operating on. It remained to be seen how well that would work out.

The cards I dealt for the question “What is the Four of Cups trying to tell me?” were:
Three of Cups, King of Cups, The Star
Once I had the story told by those three card, I could apply the message of that story to my question for the reading.  At least, that was the theory I was operating on. It remained to be seen how well that would work out.

Here are the cards I dealt for the question “What is the Four of Cups trying to tell me?” —

Three of Cups from Tarot of the Masters . King of Cups from the Tarot of the MastersMajor 17 Star -- Tarot of the Masters

Notice how the King of Cups is facing away from the Three of Cups and toward the Star. So here’s the story that these cards presented to me —

Maybe I’m being too emotionally controlled (King of Cups) so that I’m turning my back on being gregarious enough (Three of Cups.) Instead, I’m looking toward my hopes and wishes that things will turn out all right in this situation.

The basic advice, then, of this reading was this: “Have fun in this situation and try to just see it as a way to make friends. Don’t read so much into it.”

And so the point of this article is that when doing readings for yourself, you may get a card whose message for you is hard to fathom. One way to explore this message is to do one of these three-card “story” readings. I hope it works well for you.

  1. I loved Robert Place’s class during the RS10. I’ve always been a great fan of 3-cards spread, because they are so simple and yet so enlightening (I think big spreads are confusing)! Place’s technique has really enhanced my 3-card readings!

    The deck you show in your post is gorgeous, I’m in love with the colors! Forgive my ignorance, but which deck is it? I loved how it shows some known artworks, but redrawn in an original way. And it really worked well with Robert Place’s method!

    • Thank you, Marina — That is my deck, called Tarot of the Masters.
      It is currently out of print, but I am considering doing another printing if I get enough interest. So if you are interested in purchasing a copy of this rare deck, let me know and I can put you on the contact list.

    • UPDATE: I recently happened to come back to this blog post and noted your comment. I want to let you know that copies of my deck are available again. See:

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