Rachel Mann of Washington D.C. has given me permission to post her “Practical Tree of Life Spread” that she first presented on Aeclectic Tarot’s tarotforum. She found most versions to be too abstract or attempting to cover too much, so she simplified it, resulting in a easy, accessible bare bones approach. Having tried dozens of Tree of Life spreads in the past, this one has quickly become my favorite.
Like the Celtic Cross you say the card position keywords as you lay cards down using the words in the illustration. The numbers represent the order in which you lay out the cards and read them. (They are not the numbers associated with the sephiroth.)
Here’s more about the positions:
Positions 1 & 2 – Force and Form represent “The Issue.” You can see Force as a generative, active energy behind the issue and Form as the form or structure the issue takes. (They can also represent two alternatives or choices.)
Positions 3 & 4 – People or things going for or against you. (They can also express what’s expanding and contracting, or what’s coming in and going out.)
Positions 5 & 6 – Your feelings and thoughts.
Position 7 – World. Your body, possessions, physical manifestations.
Position 8 – Persona. Your everyday self and how you present yourself.
Position 9 – Advice. Your heart’s advice. The best you can do.
Position 10 – Spirit. Morality or personal growth related to the issue.
Da’at (optional card) – If you choose you can also lay out an additional card between cards 9 and 10. The Da’at (meaning ‘Knowledge’) Position can represent a shadow or hidden knowledge: something unknown or a possible future. It can bring insight, especially as to how to integrate the cards on the right and left pillars.
You work your way down the tree with cards in positions 1 through 6 on the left and right pillars. Then, work your way up the middle pillar from position 7 at the bottom to 10 at the top. Rachel adds: “I really feel the grouping and order are important to get the right flow for the reading, especially ending by going up the middle pillar. A good way to sum up a reading is to consider how the middle pillar cards (7 and 8 ) align with the upper ones (9 and 10).”